Posted by International TEFL Academy Costa Rica on 05/08/2018

Holidays in Costa Rica

Holidays in Costa Rica

Costa Rica celebrates a diverse culture and history!  We've already discussed a number of fairs and festivals that happen throughout the year in Costa Rica, but let's talk about the major holidays.  Most of the following are official holidays, which means banks and government offices will be closed and many people will not be working.  Expect there to be fewer buses running on these days in the Central Valley and for the beaches to be packed!  


Festivals & Fairs in Costa Rica


January 1

New Year's Day

Like the rest of the world, Costa Ricans like to rest and recover from a night of ringing in a new year!

Semana Santa (Holy Week)

Generally in March or April, Semana Santa is always commemorated the week before Resurrection Sunday (Easter).  Despite being a holiday derived from the Catholic faith, all schools, public and private, shut down for the entire week.  Things slow down throughout the country, although some companies only give Thursday and Friday of Holy Week off.  Many families and friends flock to the beach to relax and enjoy some time away from the normal routine, while others rest at home and partake in activities and traditions at the church.

April 11

Juan Santamaria

On this day, Costa Rica commemorates the death of one of its heroes, Juan Santamaria.  In 1856, William Walker overthrew the government of Nicaragua and attempted to conquer Central America, including Costa Rica.  Costa Rican president, Juan Rafael Mora Porras, called upon the people to take up arms and march north to Nicaragua to fight.  Santamaria joined the army as a drummer boy.  After routing a small group of  Walker's solders at Santa Rosa, Guanacaste, the Costa Rican troops continued marching north and reached the city of Rivas, Nicaragua on April 8th.  Combat was fierce, and the Costa Ricans were not able to drive Walker's men out of a hostel from which they held an advantageous firing position.  Tradition says, on April 11th, soldiers advanced towards the hostel with a torch to set it on fire.  Some soldiers tried and failed, but finally Santamaria, mortally wounded by enemy fired, succeeded and  thus contributed to the Costa Rican victory at Rivas.

May 1

Labor Day

Like many other countries, Labor Day in Costa Rica is celebrated on May 1st.  Although all schools and most businesses are closed, the holiday is not nearly as commercialized as the Labor Days we are used to.  Most families spend the day resting or may go somewhere for the day to explore.

July 25

Annexation of Nicoya (Guanacaste)

Celebrating Costa Rica's annexation of the Guanacaste province in 1824,  July 25th is a reminder of the transition of a large piece of land from Nicaragua to Costa Rica.  Like most Costa Rican holidays, schools put together programs to educate the people about this day, and many communities have parades. 

August 2

Virgen de los Ángeles (Patron Saint)

After Christmas and Easter, this is the most popular religious holiday in Costa Rica. Pilgrims from around the country journey on foot to the Los Angeles Basilica in Cartago.  Some spend days getting there, while others only dedicate August 2nd.   As they approach the basilica, many pilgrims make the last of the journey on their knees to pay honor to La Negrita, the Virgin of Los Angeles, as they prepare to thank her for the gifts received in the previous year or to petition for specific requests for the year to come.

August 15

Mother's Day

Believe it or not, this day is recognized as an official holiday in Costa Rica. Schools are closed, and many people don't have to go to work.  Of course this day is normally celebrated as a family and typically involves a barbeque or a nice dinner.  Similar to our traditions, Costa Ricans usually gift their mothers flowers, chocolates or things for the home.

September 15

Independence Day

Celebrating independence since 1821, parades, parties and festivals are held throughout the country acknowledging Costa Rica's independence from Spain. The flame of independence arrives yearly in Cartago after it has traveled south from Guatemala.   It is then distributed by foot throughout the country.  Watch for the torch ceremonies on the streets and in the parks!

October 12

Culture Day

This day celebrates the diversity of the many cultural influences that have helped form modern-day Costa Rica and Latin America.  Schools prepare shows and dances, and many communities celebrate with a parade.  The carnavales in Limon coincide with this day and celebrate Costa Rica's Afro-Caribbean influence.

December 25

Christmas Day

Traditionally, Costa Rican families go to a church service on December 24th, and many families still open gifts at midnight.  Therefore, Christmas Day is normally a quiet day of rest at home.


Are you ready to make Costa Rica your new home?  Talk to us today about taking one of our 4-week TEFL courses and making this dream a reality!


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