Independence Day in Costa Rica

Observed annually on the 15th of September, Independence Day is a public holiday in Costa Rica. This holiday commemorates its independence from Spain in 1821—a day of independence that it shares with El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. This is a holiday observed in Costa Rica with special events and traditions unique to the country.

Lanterns, also known as Faroles, are an important part of the country’s celebrations, and students around the country craft them from recycled household materials and decorate them with patriotic symbols. There are also parades, festivals, and, of course, a lot of traditional Costa Rican food on this day.

The History of Independence Day in Costa Rica

During the early 16th century, Costa Rica was first visited by Europeans. Christopher Columbus visited in 1502, and in 1522, conquistador Gil González Dávila would visit the area. It was the search for riches that brought the area under Spanish rule, and Costa Rica would become a part of the Kingdom of Guatemala. Also included in this kingdom were Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.

After King Ferdinand ascended to the Spanish throne on the 15th of September in 1821, the Act of Independence of Central America was declared by the Province of Guatemala. While the region was briefly a part of the Mexican Empire, it would become the Federal Republic of Central America in 1823.

Observing Costa Rican Independence Day

There are many events that occur during this holiday celebration in Costa Rica. Festivities usually start on the 14th of September and continue through to the evening of the 15th. During this time, there’s the raising of the National Flag, the singing of the National Anthem, and parades throughout the country.

There’s also the carrying of the symbolic “Freedom Torch,” and students create special patriotic lanterns called Faroles. Many of these lanterns are then used in the parades. During these parades, children dress in traditional clothing, and music is played. Costa Rican food also plays a prominent role in Independence Day celebrations, with people enjoying such dishes as Gallo Pinto, Casado, and Sopa Negra.

Where is it celebrated?
Costa Rica (National holiday)
When is it?
This year (2024)
September 15 Sunday
Next year (2025)
September 15 Monday
Last year (2023)
September 15 Friday