Happy Juan Sanatmaria day! Or as some people have come to know it, happy day off school. That’s basically how I’ve come to learn about this Costa Rican holiday because lucky for my school, we get this day off! But I thought I should at least know why we get this day off and its importance to Costa Rica. So, here’s what I found:
Anniversary of the Battle of Rivas: April 11
Anniversary of the Battle of Rivas is celebrated as a public holiday in Costa Rica
The Anniversary of the Battle of Rivas is celebrated by the Republic of Costa Rica each year on the 11th of April. The holiday is more popularly known as Juan Santamaria Day in memory of their 19-year old barefooted soldier who fought for their country against the troop of William Walker on 1856.
History of Anniversary of the Battle of Rivas (Juan Santamaria Day)
During the early 1850’s William Walker and his army planned to conquer the five Central American states. He attempted of putting the states together as a new Federation of Southern States in the territory of the United States in which he wanted to become the head of the federation. Costa Rica was among his target territories.
On 1856, Walker became the highest ruler of Nicaragua. He established a type of government in Nicaragua in which foreign nations, especially the Americans and the Europeans feared and they refused to engage into Walker’s military conquests. Later on, these Central American States organized an alliance to bring down the economy of Walker led by Costa Rica.
Further preparation and training was organized by Costa Rican president, Juan Rafael Mora for the approaching attack of the army of Walker. Mora received a strong support from his people and of them was Juan Santamaria, a teenage drummer from the town of Alajuela.
On March 19 of 1856, after the march to Guanacaste by President Mora and his people, they were faced with the armed group of Walker. The encounter lasted for several minutes and Walker’s troop pulled back and returned to Nicaragua for safety. The Costa Ricans were never torn apart and they followed the troop to the borders at Rivas. The battle sparked between the two parties. Almost half of the Costa Rican were defeated and as a quick decision to defeat Walker’s army, General Cañas thought of burning them out which was a successful idea however, turned out to be suicidal.
With this courageous plan, two volunteers decided to carry on and pursue the order. The Costa Rican drummer boy along and one Nicaraguan were the bravest souls during the battle which made the plan of General Cañas victorious. Santamaria sacrificed his life and was able to fulfill his duty to his country by saving it to the hands of the invaders.
Anniversary of the Battle of Rivas (Juan Santamaria Day) Traditions, Customs and Activities
Since the Battle of Rivas, Juan Santamaria was declared as one of the country’s heroes. He is honored during this day because of his heroic act which led to the sovereignty of the Costa Ricans.
As a way of remembering Santamaria, a statue was put up in a park in Alajuela and a museum was established in memory of him. Also, the primary international airport of Costa Rica bears Santamaria’s name.
During the celebration of Battle of Rivas of Juan Santamaria Day, several parades, national activities, parades and concerts are being held nationwide most especially in his birth place, Alajuela.
Sadly, I think my personal celebration of the holiday will be me trying to finish all my homework