Monday, September 26, 2016

Día de Independencia Costa Rica Independence Day

Each year Costa Rica celebrates a round of many holidays, some cultural and some worldly. This September we had almost a party month on our mountain. First, we celebrated Max & Sara's birthdays. Then we followed with Día del niño or day of the child, which is celebrated globally. The school celebrates all week allowing the kids to dress up in full costumes on the last day with a pizza and cake party. This is always fun because the whole neighborhood is invited and the kids feel very special. Just 1 weeks later, September 15th we celebrated Central Americas' independence. 

While the schools and cities are decorated all week with the colors of the flag, the real celebration begins on the night of the 14th with the lantern parade, known as faroles

The lantern symbolizes the story of a young Guatemalan girl who carried a lantern into the dark streets to gather her towns people to rally for independence from Spain. The next day, the formal paperwork was signed and September 15th is celebrated in every country in Central America. In Costa Rica, we begin the celebration the night before by waiting until the last minute to either buy or make a small lantern on a stick. This is our 3rd year to participate and we bought simple paper lanterns made of red, white and blue commonly sold on the streets during the week. Some kids make intricate faroles in the form of a tico house, ox carts or Bart Simpson, or other cartoon characters. I do not know why, but the majority of them are of Tico inspiration and colors. We promised the kids next year we will make our own lanterns. Sara wants a butterfly and Max wants to make a minion. Sofia tried to eat her lantern just before her arroz con leche :) Hopefully next year she will be more patriotic and hopefully her hair will have grown back better by then too.

We all gather at the school where the students sing, dance and tell the history. They often sell food and drinks to raise money for the school activities. The salute to the flag is sang as well as the national anthem, although this is practiced every morning as well. We have made it a point to learn these 2 songs in particular to show our respect and support. Max and Sara sing these every morning with their hands over their hearts.

After the celebration at the school, the marching band leads a parade, with faroles in tow around the plaza. Each child carries a lantern with a special meaning. The kids always look forward to this night and now we have the story to tell them about why it is important. Freedom and Liberty are the single most important values to any human, without there will be no peace. I could translate the National anthem for you and the salute to the flag, but if you do not do the work, you will never learn and appreciate the words. We also learned about the flag and the symbol of Costa Rica. Max was tested on the materials and we learned that the colors of the flag represented red for the blood shed during the battles, blue is for the skies protecting us and white is for peace. 

One can only be so lucky to witness how each and every town lights up at night on September 14th, celebrating the meaning behind Día de Independencia throughout Central America. Independence is celebrated many different ways all over the world. The larger cities in Costa Rica also light the cannons and set off fireworks, but for the smaller, rural areas like our mountain, we hold hands and walk the plaza with our lanterns. Pura Vida!

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