Children’s Day

Friday, Saturday and Sunday are for the kids. Saturday is el Día del Niño (Children’s Day) in Costa Rica. The day is not exactly a legal holiday but festivities honoring the nation’s children will be part of school activities Friday.

Parents and close family members will be preparing small presents to be distributed Saturday.

Friday public schools and some private ones will have fiestas for the students in anticipation of the next day. Children’s  day is always Sept. 9, but this year the date fell on a Saturday.

The most universal celebration will be in individual homes. This is not Christmas, so presents will be modest. But there will be lots of candy and other treats and perhaps a fiesta with cake and ice cream and maybe even a piñata.

For expats, a small gift, creative but not expensive, is traditional for young family members, children of employees and perhaps children of neighbors, depending on the relationship.


Mothers Day

Mothers Day in Costa Rica is quite an event.  This year it falls on Tuesday the 15th of August but because of the day of the week that it falls on, the day of celebration is Monday the 21st of August.

All of the federal offices, banks and many businesses close for this tribute to the mothers.  Mothers are seen as saints in Costa Rica thus the big holiday. Because of the 3 day weekend, everyone will be taking off for the beach but will be taking their mothers along to celebrate her day.  If your considering taking a trip to the beach, this weekend might not be the time to go as traffic is going to be horrible both coming and going and most of the hotels will already be booked up if you haven’t already made your reservations.

Enjoy your mothers day, and make sure that your special mother knows that she is appreciated and loved.


Guanacaste Day

This year the celebration of Guanacaste Day was put off from July 25 to Monday the 31st so that Costa Ricans could take advantage of the three day weekend.  This is a celebration for the annexation of Guanacaste when it was decided it would be a part of Costa Rica rather than Nicaragua.

Thousands will head for the beach for this long weekend.  Some may even have 5 days off because the Virgen de Los Angeles falls on Wednesday the 2nd of August which is also a federal holiday.


Legislators Vote Themselves a Holiday

More than one Legislative Deputy has their bags packed and ready for a vacation, as the Legislative Assembly goes for recess from July 10 to July 14, resuming functions on Monday July 17.

The vacation period was approved by 46 legislators with three giving the thumbs down.

The vacation coincides with the mid-year school break as more than 1 million students have been off school this week and are set to return on the 17th. The mid-year break is a traditional holiday for students and their families to hit the beaches and mountain resorts.


Religious celebrations unite families

Easter is the premier holiday, and Semana Santa (Holy Week) is a time when most all express their faith, bringing the nation to a standstill. Spanish-style street processions take place every day of the week before Easter, to dramatize all stages of Christ’s way to the cross, crucifixion, and resurrection. Small villages have their own way of celebrating, and they add to the occasion the blessing of oxcarts, horses and trucks. Families everywhere prepare “dulce de chiverre” (sweet preserves), “arroz con leche” (sweet rice), “tamal mudo,” eggnog, quesadillas, “rosquillas: and “polvorones,” and special dishes with seafood.

During the Christmas celebration and some days previous to New Years, a similar phenomenon – the national “fiesas patronales,” is celebrated. Families gather to display nativity scenes at their homes and to celebrate the “posadas,” a custom where children, playing sheperds, go house to house and sing Christmas carols, re-enacting the journey of Mary and Joseph. The “Rosario del Niño” is a rosary the families pray to conclude the Christmas celebration. Musicians perform traditional carols while the partygoers feast on traditional meals. One of maiz y rellenos de arroz,” and “ carne de cerdo y vegetales.”

Another religious celebration is the pilgrimage to the Basilica de los Angeles in Cartago city, in honor of the Virgin of the Angels. During this holiday many people walk to the city from all parts of the country, in order to pay a “promise” to the Virgin (when she answered a prayer) or to renew their faith. Some believers travel for days or even weeks in order to reach their destination and to honor the Virgin. Even though some Costa Ricans decide to party during religious celebrations, they still prefer the company of their family.

Independence Day is the most significant non-religious holiday in Costa Rica. Every town has its own formal official celebration including parades of young children, music bands and majorettes. People carry the national flags and wear the national colors of red, blue and white.


4th of July picnic

Every year for 46 years now, Americans gather at the Cerveceria in Alajuela for the annual 4th of July picnic. Free food, beer and patriotism will draw 1000’s of U.S. citizens and their families to this location.

Hot dogs, bagels, coffee and beer will fill guests’ stomachs as they enjoy activities such as sack races, square dancing, volleyball and a water-balloon toss. There are all kinds of games for the children as well offering bags of candy as a prize. They actually get a prize whether they win or not so at the end of the day, you can count on your child being full of sweets.

The party starts at 8:00 am and at 10:00 am everything stops for the national anthem and the raising of the flags.

The picnic is supported primarily by donations from U.S. companies with Costa Rica branches, but each year there are volunteers collecting donations as guess leave the picnic.

The children have lots of fun and you get to see all of your American friends that you may only see once a year at the picnic. It’s fun for the entire family.


Memorial Day

While you might suspect, Costa Rican’s don’t celebrate Memorial Day.  The American schools do take off this day but for the rest of Costa Rica, it’s business as usual.  Makes for a good long weekend for the Americans at the beach when most everyone else is working.  During holiday weeks or weekends, it seems that the entire Central Valley heads for the beach, that’s why ’special’ weekends like this one are so appreciated.  Not a lot of people and still plenty of fun.