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15 Things to Know about Costa Rica Independence Day

Learn 15 fascinating facts about Costa Rica Independence Day and celebrate 196 years of freedom with the nation on Sept. 15!!

September is all about Costa Rica’s Independence Day on Sept. 15.

For the Mes de la Patria, or “Month of the Nation,” businesses, homes and even cars are festooned with blue, white and red Costa Rican flags, banners and decorations commemorating a month full of colorful celebrations.

Here are 15 things to know about Costa Rica’s Independence Day. Happy Independence Day Costa Rica!

  1. This year, Costa Rica celebrates its 196th year of independence from Spain on Sept. 15. The country shares its independence day with Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua.
  2. On Sept. 15, 1821, a Central American congress signed “The Act of Independence” asserting that Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica were free and independent of the Spanish Empire.
  3. Although Sept. 15 is the day when independence was declared in Central America, it took a month for the news to arrive in Costa Rica – on Oct. 13 – because the messenger had to travel by horseback from Guatemala with the official notice.
  4. Unlike other countries in the Americas, there was no fight for independence in Central America. Depleted by the war with Napoleon Bonaparte, and a few Latin American wars, Spain actually supported Central American independence because the region had become a burden.
  5. Costa Rica finally became a completely independent nation in 1838, when it separated from the Central American Republic.
  6. Sept. 15 is a national holiday and businesses, banks and government institutions will be closed. Since it is a national holiday and this year with it falling on a Friday, most people will take advantage of the long weekend for a vacation.
  7. Every year, a symbolic independence torch travels from Guatemala to Costa Rica’s colonial capital of Cartago, east of San José, arriving on Sept. 14. Like the Olympic torch, the independence torch is carried across the Central American countries in a relay by runners.
  8. On the evening of Sept. 14, Costa Rica begins its big celebration in every town across the country with a traditional nighttime lantern parade (Desfile de Faroles) by schoolchildren. Kids carry colorful homemade paper and wooden “lanterns” (nowadays with LED lights) in the shape of houses and other objects in a reenactment of the 19th-century journey that brought the message of independence to Costa Rica.
  9. School marching bands, color guards and folkloric dancers parade through nearly every town on the morning of Sept. 15. Schoolchildren practice for several months in preparation. Traditional foods are usually sold by street vendors.
  10. Costa Rica traditional clothing for men is usually white cotton pants and a white button-up shirt with a red sash belt, a red handkerchief tied at the neck, and a straw hat. Women wear long, flowing, vivid multi-colored skirts in layers, with a white, ruffled, sleeveless blouse (usually embroidered or with ribbons), a choker band necklace, and their hair pulled up in complicated braids or a bun and decorated with a big flower.
  11. Costa Rica’s national anthem was originally created in 1853, with the music composed by Manuel María Gutiérrez, but it wasn’t until 1900 that the current lyrics were added by José María Zeledón Brenes.
  12. Costa Rica is a democratic and peaceful country and has not had an army since 1948.
  13. Costa Rica’s national flag is striped blue, white, red, white and blue. The color blue signifies the sky, white is for peace, and red is for the warmth and courage of the Costa Rican people.
  14. There have been eight versions of Costa Rica’s flag since it was first created in 1823. The current version has been in place since 1964.
  15. The National Seal of Costa Rica features three green volcanoes representing the nation’s three principal mountain ranges, a distinct Central Valley, the two oceans of the Pacific and Caribbean that border the nation, and merchant ships that symbolize commerce and the country’s maritime history. A rising sun represents Costa Rica’s prosperity, and the seven stars in the sky are for the country’s seven provinces. Two myrtle branches, above the words “Republica de Costa Rica”, symbolize Costa Rica’s peaceful nature. The seal is framed in gold with small circles that represent coffee, known in Costa Rica as “golden beans”.

Article by Shannon Farley