Celebrating Guanacaste Day

By Angel Mercer


I’m probably pronouncing it incorrectly, and spelling it incorrectly, but it’s more important that children have happyness rather than the capacity to spell it correctly, no? Thank you, Chris Gardner! Anyway, every 25th of July, Ticos celebrate the Guanacaste province’s annexation from Nicaragua in an event aptly titled Guanacaste Day. The celebration encompasses fiestas, folk dances, cattle shows, bullfights, and concerts. “Bomba” is the expression used to announce the joke that will inaugurate the festivities.

This event involved the children of Potrero transforming their school into the epicenter of the celebration. It was there that an expatriate like me could come and watch the bailes tipicos (typical dances) such as the El Torito (The Little Bull), Caballito Nicoyano (Little Horse from Nicoya), and the Punto Guanacasteco (The Guanacaste Step) and absorb the richness of the ceremony.

Celebration is a mode of culture. Like language, culture is a vessel for transmitting beliefs, customs, history, ideals, and practices to one another and to future generations. The Costa Rican identity places value on education, democracy, peace, and family togetherness. Guanacaste Day illustrated these ideals and the manifestation of their conviction in the power of the people. The Guanacasteco saying, “de la patria por nuestro voluntad,” translates more or less as “part of the country by our own choice” and expresses the idea that democracy is more than just a word, but a perspective put into practice everyday in Costa Rica, especially on Guanacaste Day.

angel photo

Angel with his host sister Alexa in her traditional costume and his host mother Fanny

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