A Vara Blanca Independence Day

School in Vara Blanca, Costa Rica.

              For people around the world, Independence Day differs in its meaning and how the country celebrates is heritage and patriotism.  Here in Costa Rica, Independence Day celebrates not the formation of Costa Rica as in independent country, but the independence of Central America as a whole from Spain.  Officially celebrated on September 15th, the festivities of the celebration actually cover both the 14th and 15th. 

Students wearing traditional clothing.

              I was lucky enough to have arrived in Vara Blanca, Costa Rica just a few weeks before Independence Day and was excited to be able to watch the festivities in this beautiful mountain town.  In the midst of rainy season and days of overcast, the Independence Day celebrations in Vara Blanca were graced by full rays of sunlight.  

Girls wearing traditional dress.

The Independence Day celebrations started off with the arrival of the torch.  After having been lit on September 9th in Guatemala, had been carried by foot through Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, ending in Costa Rica on the 14th, and had made its way by students running a part of the flame to the local school.  

A student running the torch to the school.

Following the arrival of the torch the students presented their Faroles, lanterns, lit by small electric candles.  Most were made of household materials and represented everything from cars to houses; some being extremely extravagant.  Each student had the chance to show off their lantern before it went up against others in a vote for the best design.  Those voted the best design were rewarded a gift, but all students received a prize in the end.

Students with store bought faroles.

The following day, the community came together again at the school to watch the students perform.  Dressed in traditional clothing, with some of the boy students dawning drawn on mustaches and beards, the students sang, recited speeches, and danced.  

Students dancing in traditional dresses.

I have experienced Independence Day celebrations in a number of countries, but unsure what to expect from Costa Rica; and more so from Vara Blanca.  I have to say that it was a real glimmer of light.  Vara Blanca may not have had a big extravaganza, like you might see other places, but it was a true show of Costa Rican heritage, patriotism, and, most importantly, community.  Vara Blanca, like the torch run, showed a symbolizing touch of unity.

The writter's, Justin Rickey, bio.


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