By Robert Rogers
The 15th of September is the Costa Rican Independence Day. From among the secular holidays, it’s probably the most popular, and it is robustly celebrated. The great thing about Costa Rica’s Independence is that it was achieved without firing a shot, and in fact, Costa Ricans did not know about it until about a month after it happened. There was no internet at that time.
The fireworks would come almost immediately after Independence in 1821, and continued through 1948. The sparks would fly for some time, bracketed by two civil wars; the first one began between San José and Alajuela on the one side, and Cartago and Heredia on the other, over whether to affiliate with México or not. The “No” had it, and the country’s capital was moved from Cartago to San José.
The last civil war was basically due to Don Pepe (José Figueres Ferrer, a Harley Davidson rider, by the way), who took offense when the then president refused to accept the vote of the people and step down. Two thousand lives later, the military was abolished; public institutions were founded, and disenfranchisement was practically eradicated after almost 1,000 pieces of legislation passed. Throw in amongst the time, a military dictatorship or two, and an execution or two, and that brings us up to the second and current Republic of Costa Rica.
A country’s Independence Day is a time for celebration. There will be plenty of roast pig and lots of drinking, and sparks will fly again, this time in the form of entertaining displays of craftsmanship at the public fireworks’ event. These fireworks are as dangerous now as they were back in the old days, and should not be handled by non-professionals.
Children are burned with the harmless looking sparklers, and thumbs get practically if not totally blown off with cherry bombs. Let’s celebrate this wonderful country, but let’s do it safely.