Today is Costa Rica’s Independence Day, celebrated for nearly two centuries all over this densely forested Central American country. It’s a day to spend with friends and family, enjoying traditional folk music like guanacasteca, Latin cumbia, or Caribbean calypso, and eating tamales wrapped in banana leaves. But first there are the parades.
Festivities begin in Costa Rica on the evening of the 14th, with the arrival of the freedom torch from Guatemala. The freedom torch is a flame similar to the Olympic torch, which passes through the five Central American countries that declared independence from Spain in 1821: Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. Once the torch arrives in Costa Rica the entire country sings the national anthem, which is broadcast at 6 pm. After that the Desfile de Faroles, or lantern parade, begins.
Costa Ricans fill the streets carrying lanterns, honoring Dolores Bedoya, the Guatemalan woman who notified her neighbors of freedom by going door to door with a lantern.
There’s another parade on the 15th—a day of dancing in the streets, and enjoying food from vendors, traditional dishes like arroz con pollo and fried plantains – plantains being one of the many crops grown in this 51% forested country. Everywhere you look you will see the red, white, and blue stripes of the Costa Rican flag—shown in today’s Doodle. The blue represents the sky, the white stands for peace—Costa Rica’s independence was won peacefully, and the country has not had an army since 1948—and the red stands for the passion and bravery of the Costa Rican people.
Happy Independence Day, Costa Rica!