Festivals and Celebrations

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Festivals and Celebrations

Every day is a patron saint's day somewhere in Costa Rica, so you may very well see some community's annual festejo patronal (patron-saint festival). Listen for the loud firecracker explosion at dawn that kicks off the festivities.

The festivals mirror Costa Rica: devoutly Catholic but increasingly secularized. The festival is a religious tradition and an important part of the day is a Mass and parade where the saint's figure is carried through the streets. That said, there's also bingo games, rickety carnival rides—a certain amount of luck and prayer is in order here—horse parades, and amateurish bullfights.

Año Nuevo. New Year's Day is a time that most Costa Ricans spend with family and friends.

Fiestas de Santa Cruz. Mid-January brings the Santa Cruz Fiestas, with bullfights, rodeos, folk dancing, and marimba music.

Semana Santa. Lasting from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday, Holy Week is a major observance in Costa Rica, especially on Good Friday, when there are religious processions all over the country. Little is open Thursday and Friday, and the country legally goes dry. Make hotel reservations far in advance.

Día de Juan Santamaría. This public holiday, on April 11, commemorates Costa Rica's national hero.

Día del Trabajo. On May 1, Costa Rica celebrates Labor Day.

Día de la Virgen de los Angeles. Costa Rica's patron saint is celebrated on August 2, with religious processions from San José to the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Los Angeles in Cartago.

Día de las Madres. Costa Rica's reverence for motherhood means that Mother's Day on August 15 is a legal holiday here.

Día de la Independencia. Lantern-lighted parades the night before and marching bands throughout the country during the day mark the Independence Day holiday on September 15.

Inmaculada Concepción de la Virgen María. On December 8, Masses honor the Virgin Mary.

Navidad. The celebration of Christmas goes on throughout December, and extends into the last week of the month, with year-end festivals including bullfights around San José.

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