Public Holidays in Costa Rica

Public holidays in Costa Rica reflect the nation's rich cultural tapestry, historical milestones, and deep-rooted values. Whether celebrating national heroes, religious traditions, or important events in Costa Rican history, these holidays unite the country in shared pride and joy. From the joyous festivities of New Year's Day to the somber Day of Abolition of the Army, each holiday holds a special meaning for Costa Ricans. Here is a comprehensive look at the major public holidays in Costa Rica.

New Year's Day

New Year's Day in Costa Rica is celebrated on January 1st with immense enthusiasm. Fireworks light up the sky, and people host lively parties to mark the arrival of the new year. Families and friends gather to share traditional dishes like tamales and exchange resolutions for the upcoming year. Beaches, parks, and city centers are popular spots where people gather to enjoy concerts and parades, making it a day filled with optimism and unity.

Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday, observed in early April, commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ. Churches across Costa Rica host special services that include foot-washing rituals to symbolize humility and service. Religious processions wind through the streets, attracting large crowds who come to reflect on the values of faith and community. The event encourages spiritual reflection and prepares worshippers for the Good Friday observances.

Good Friday

Good Friday, observed the day after Maundy Thursday, is a significant religious holiday. Costa Ricans observe it by attending mass, taking part in reenactments of the Passion of Christ, and joining solemn processions. Public life slows down as businesses close, and the faithful focus on prayer and reflection. The streets are quiet, except for the sound of hymns and the steps of participants in religious parades, reflecting the deep spiritual significance of the day.

Juan Santamaría Day

Juan Santamaría Day on April 11th honors Costa Rica's national hero who played a pivotal role in defending the nation during the Battle of Rivas in 1856. The day is marked with patriotic parades, historical reenactments, and educational activities that teach the younger generation about Santamaría's courage. The main ceremony takes place in Alajuela, where a statue of Santamaría stands as a tribute to his legacy. This holiday reinforces the values of bravery and patriotism among Costa Ricans.

Labor Day

Labor Day, celebrated on May 1st, recognizes the contributions and rights of workers in Costa Rica. It's a day of parades, speeches, and gatherings organized by labor unions and workers' groups. People use the occasion to advocate for fair wages and better working conditions while acknowledging the importance of unity among the workforce. Public officials also give speeches that emphasize the country's commitment to labor rights and social progress.

Annexation of Guanacaste

The Annexation of Guanacaste is celebrated on July 25th to commemorate the peaceful annexation of the Guanacaste province in 1824. Parades, traditional dances, and rodeos take center stage as the people of Guanacaste celebrate their distinct heritage. In Liberia, the provincial capital, people dress in colorful traditional attire and showcase their local cuisine, music, and crafts. This holiday highlights the region's cultural richness and the unity of the Costa Rican people.

Our Lady of Los Ángeles

Our Lady of Los Ángeles, or La Virgen de los Ángeles, is the patron saint of Costa Rica. On August 2nd, the faithful embark on a pilgrimage to the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles in Cartago, where a statue of the Virgin Mary, known as La Negrita, is housed. Millions of pilgrims make the journey, or "Romería," to the basilica to offer prayers and seek blessings. The event is a deeply spiritual display of faith and unity, attracting people from all walks of life.

Mother's Day

Mother's Day, celebrated on August 15th, is a special day in Costa Rica that honors the contributions and sacrifices of mothers. Children give gifts, flowers, and heartfelt cards to their mothers, often preparing special meals to show their appreciation. Schools and workplaces organize activities that celebrate motherhood, emphasizing the values of love, care, and family unity. It's a day that recognizes the pivotal role of mothers in shaping Costa Rican society.

Independence Day

Independence Day on September 15th commemorates Costa Rica's independence from Spain in 1821. The celebrations begin the night before with the "Grito de Independencia," where people light candles and join in singing the national anthem. On the day itself, the streets are filled with patriotic parades, traditional dances, and musical performances. The national flag is prominently displayed, and schools organize events that teach the importance of unity, freedom, and national pride.

Day of Abolition of the Army

The Day of Abolition of the Army, celebrated on December 1st, marks the historic decision to dissolve Costa Rica's military forces in 1948. The central ceremony is held at the National Museum of Costa Rica in San José, where the nation's leaders and the public gather to honor this momentous decision. Parades, exhibitions, and educational activities highlight Costa Rica's commitment to peace and social welfare, making it a day of unity and moral leadership.

Christmas Day

Christmas Day, celebrated on December 25th, is a joyous time in Costa Rica. The celebrations often begin with Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, after which families gather for festive meals and exchange gifts. Traditional dishes like tamales, "gallo pinto," and Christmas sweets are enjoyed, while decorations fill homes and public spaces. Children eagerly await the arrival of Papá Noel (Santa Claus), and the air is filled with the warmth of carols and holiday cheer.

Public holidays in Costa Rica offer a unique glimpse into the country's values, historical milestones, and cultural traditions. From religious observances to patriotic parades, these holidays are essential moments that bring Costa Ricans together to celebrate their shared heritage and unity.

Upcoming Holidays (next six months)

Annexation of Guanacaste July 29 Monday Public Holiday
Our Lady of Los Ángeles August 02 Friday Public Holiday
Mother's Day August 19 Monday Public Holiday
Independence Day September 15 Sunday Public Holiday

Holidays by Year

Previous Year: 2023
This page was last edited on 05 May 2024 at 10:05 AM (EST).