Costa Rica Celebrates 184 Years of Independence

September 9, 2005

WITH the melody of the national anthem, the flickering of lanterns and the passing of a symbolic torch, Costa Ricans will celebrate their independence from Spain this Wednesday and Thursday as parades and historical re-creations are held in every corner of the country.Costa Rica was officially and nonviolently declared independent as part of the greater Central American region by an open congress in Guatemala City on Sept. 15, 1821. However, due to the lack of communication technology at the time, the news took nearly a month to reach Costa Rica, finally arriving on Oct. 13 and, according to legend, was spread at night by messengers carrying small lanterns to light their paths.The festival officially starts Wednesday at 6 p.m., when citizens all over Costa Rica will join together and sing the national anthem, followed by a countrywide re-creation of the spreading of the news of independence, in which thousands of Costa Ricans will take to the streets carrying candle lanterns.That evening in Cartago, the country’s original capital, east of San José, President Abel Pacheco will accept a torch carried all the way from Guatemala to signify the spread of independence throughout Central America.On Thursday morning, every major city in the country will host a parade presented by Costa Rican students. Several government officials, including Minister of Public Education Manuel Bolaños, will hold an official celebration in San José’s Parque Central beginning at 6 p.m.Residents and visitors in the country should be warned that the celebrations will undoubtedly cause traffic problems throughout downtown San José and many other parts of the country from early Wednesday evening until late Thursday. Government offices, the U.S. Embassy and most businesses will be closed Thursday.

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