January 1st

New Year’s Day:

  • Some people decide to stay at home meet their families or go out to bars and wait together for the New Year to come.
  • This is also celebrated with a big dance in San Jose’s Parque Central.

February 14th

San Valentine’s Day:

  • It is celebrated all around the world. “Ticos” celebrate “El día Del Amor y la Amistad” (love and friendship day) taking their partners to dinner, sending flowers or exchanging chocolates or cards.

Between March and April

Easter, Holy Week:

  • Dates change annually but businesses often close from Holy Thursday to Sunday.
  • Most Catholic Churches will made religious processions in which they re-create dramatizations of Jesus’ final days before being crucified.
  • It’s important to mention that all alcohol sales are prohibited from Thursday to Sunday and many businesses extend the holiday to the entire week.

April 11th

Juan Santamaria Day:

Commemorates Costa Rica’s national hero who fought at the battle of Rivas against the American invader, William Walker, in 1856. The International Airport is named after him.

May 1st

Labor Day:

  • Every public and private sector employee has the day off.

July 25th

Guanacaste Day:

  • It is celebrated for the annexation of Guanacaste from Nicaragua in 1824.
  • Highlights usually include bullfights, rodeos, dancing, topes, and other parades and parties all around the province.

August 2nd

Virgin de Los Angeles Day:

  • This day the faithful Catholic masses make a religious procession from wherever they live to Cartago’s La Basilica de Cartago to honor “La Negrita.”
  • Pilgrims come from all over the country, mostly on foot (so many major roads are closed) to celebrate all together, drink holy water and cure their ailments. Over a million people attend. Once they reach the stairs of the church, they enter praying on their knees to the altar.

August 15th

Mother’s Day:

It is surprisingly a major national holiday where all the locals have off work to go and be with their mothers. This is not just an invented Hallmark occasion; the Ticos take this day very seriously.  

September 15th

Independence Day:

  • Big patriotic parades celebrate Costa Rica’s independence from Spain in 1821.
  • Everything is closed including some streets.
  • High school bands commemorate marching and playing national songs, and the country is decorated with blue, red, and white hand-made crafts, little flags and “faroles” (kind of paper lanterns lighted with candles).
  • The day culminates with the arrival of the Freedom Torch in Cartago (delivered from Nicaragua by relay runners) when everyone in the country stops and simultaneously sings the national anthem.
  • Children later enjoy faroles parades where they carry small lanterns through their towns.

October 12th

Día de la Raza (Columbus Day):

  • It is more a day off than a huge celebration.
  •  Limon is the only province that celebrates this day in the week prior to the 12th with a colorful carnival full of dances and cultural demonstrations on the Atlantic side of the country.

December 24th

Christmas Eve:

  • Not all establishments are closed, many places have special shortened schedules.
  • At midnight, many masses in the churches begin to celebrate the birth of Christ.

December 25th

Christmas Day:

It is a family oriented holiday that includes beach trips and also many family meeting to exchange gifts. Tamales are the traditional meal for this season with grapes, apples and pears consumed during this season.

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