Costa Rica Independence Day September 15th

Independence Day San Miguel Limon – Building a farol for the celebration

Faroles or Lanterns are made by Costa Rican’s to celebrate their Independence from Spanish rule (1821). There was no electricity at that time so people walked to the towns center with homemade lanterns. While community leaders were discussing plans for the next day the rest of the town was outside holding up their lanterns, probably singing with voices high in anticipation of their freedom from Spain. People still gather at community centers or schools with their lanterns on the eve of Independence Day, September 15th. 2013 marks 192 years of Independence.

My 11 year old neighbor Andrey was supposed to have made his farol about a week before he actually did. The day before the celebration he got out his bag of supplies (most saved from last year) and called me to come and help. He was supposed to be horseback riding with his friends so he needed to finish quickly.

Building a Farol

Every kid loves making a farol in Costa Rica


Farol building Costa Rica

It’s best to start your farol before September 15th


Preparing for Independence Day

Everybody pitches in.

I helped as much as I could but it didn’t seem to quicken the process. His friends decided to take off without him, mentioning several times that they had finished their farol last week.

Boyson Horses

Independence Day Eve

The town of San Miguel in Limon is not very big. While most communities in Costa Rica were parading with marching bands, traditional dancers and store bought faroles the San Miguelitos were trying to decide if they should walk around the school in the rain with their hand made lanterns. The kids waited patiently in front of the school for the director to make a decision on whether to weather the weather. They sang the National Anthem at exactly 6pm and after gave praise to their Roman Catholic God all the while holding their faroles high in the air.

Independence celebration

Costa Rica Independence Celebration

Faroles in the Dark

It was finally decided that they would stay under the cover of the roof and sing the national anthem again. This decision was greeted with sounds of relief by the parents and boo’s and aww’s by the kids.

I am very excited about next year’s celebration. I keep thinking about what my farol will look like. There were so many designs already taken, the coke bottle airplane, the natural gourd with holes for the light to come through and what appeared to be an exact replica of the titanic. What will mine be?

* The other Central American countries (minus Belize) celebrate this day also but have different traditions. The one thing that is common is that a torch is passed from country to country with runners from different areas carrying the torch through their towns.

This is the torch on Route 32, the main route from the Caribbean to the capitol San Jose.

Carrying the torch through the streets.

Carrying the torch through the streets.

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