Independence Day is celebrated every September 15th in Central America. One of the most popular Costa Rican traditions is the famous lantern parade.

Meaning of the lantern parade

The lanterns symbolize the night of September 14, 1821, when Dolores Bedoya was filled with anxiety and ran through the cobblestone streets of Guatemala, summoning all citizens to the outskirts of the Cabido, where the deputations of Guatemala, Chiapas, Honduras and El Salvador met. Meanwhile in Costa Rica, which belonged to the deputation of Leon Nicaragua, the events that took place in the neighboring country and that would change their destiny were unknown.

The Guatemalan people gathered at the town hall with their lamps and lanterns that night, and through their appeals and pressure, succeeded in getting the much desired independence signed.

Lanterns – photo: Monumental

In Costa Rica

In Costa Rica, students and school children make their own lanterns with their own hands, which they display on the night of each September 14.

“(…) every year hundreds of children prepare in advance what they will proudly display on September 14, lanterns of all sizes, colors and elaborate creations, some, the most practical, buy the lantern already built, but the fact of participating in this activity is a source of pride and pleasure”. (Source:

The tradition of the lantern parade began in 1953, when after the Revolution of 1948, special importance was given to the rescue of patriotic values. Professor Victor Manuel Ureña Arguedas, Provincial Director of Schools of San Jose, launched the idea. It is since then that the activity is one of the most fervent and participatory of our country, where children, accompanied by their families parade with their white, blue and red lanterns.

Author: M. Barrantes for Sensorial Sunsets

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