To celebrate the 190th anniversary of Guanacaste’s annexation into Costa Rica, the Festival Cultural de la Anexión in Nicoya has dedicated this year to the native Yegüita dance.
The festival begins on July 22 and runs until July 27. The original annexation occurred July 25, 1824. During next Tuesday’s inauguration, there will be a parade through the main streets in the town of Nicoya that will feature these folk dances, which are more than 350 years old.
Nicoya Mayor Marco Jiménez said that the festival is paying homage to an essential piece of Guanacaste history. By dedicating this year’s version to the dance, Nicoya’s people are able to hold onto an important tradition in a rapidly changing world, he said.
“All of us who live in this cantón know what this dance means as a local tradition and an expression that has been part of our hearts for many years,” Jiménez said. “Also, this dedication accomplishes one
of the festival’s most important goals, which was to maintain our customs despite modernization.”
The Yegüita dances remain popular in Nicoya, as the town celebrates the Día de La Virgen de Guadalupe every year on Dec. 12 through these traditional dances. These processions are usually made up of one dancer, a flute player, a drummer, and another dancer dressed as the Virgin.
According to local historian Mónica Hernández, the dance’s origin stems from a legend in which devotees were walking home from a Dec. 12 Mass dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe when a group of drunk men with machetes suddenly attacked them. The devotees began to pray to the Virgin of Guadalupe to protect them. Just then a mare appeared and kicked the attackers away. Yegüita translates to little mare in English.
The festival is scheduled to feature a number of shows from national and international folk groups, local cuisine, area artwork and poetry readings, and a marimba festival, among other acts.