Now that the World Cup is coming to its conclusion, the time has come to dig in and get some work done, right?
In two weeks there is another holiday, the Anexión de Nicoya a Costa Rica. This day commemorates the decision on July 25, 1824, by leading residents of what was then called the Partido de Nicoya to seek union with Costa Rica instead of Nicaragua. The colonial Partido de Nicoya was not just the peninsula that today bears that name. The land involved is basically what is the province of Guanacaste. Partido meant a legal territory in old Spanish, although today it stands mostly for party as in a political group or even a soccer game.
Traditionally the sitting president and leading politicians go to Nicoya that day to commemorate the decision. The day is a legal holiday.
The holiday marks the beginning of the massive display of faith that Costa Ricans produce each year. The last week in July and the first day of August is the time for the pilgrimages to Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles in Cartago. This is the Costa Rican version of the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. She is represented by a small black rock that turned up in 1635. The Virgin of the Angeles is considered the patroness of the country.
The tradition evokes images of the Middle Ages. Half the country and some from other countries
find time to walk to Cartago and then enter the basilica there on their knees. On the afternoon of Aug. 1 the crush is so great that pedestrians would have a hard time walking west on the downtown mall.
Aug. 2 is the official feast day, and the majority of pilgrims overnight in the basilica plaza to be present for a morning Mass and sermon.
The ranking clergyman usually reads out the assembled politicians for not doing enough for the poor.
The pilgrimage is a personal effort, and no totals are kept, but the best guess is that 2.5 million persons make the hike each year.
Folks who live in Cartago have been known to take a bus to some distant location and walk back to demonstrate their faith and to seek heavenly favors.
The last few days of July and Aug. 1 are major challenges for traffic police who keep track of the crowd and divert vehicles. The Cruz Roja provides the medial attention, and Fuerza Pública officers are stationed along the major routes. As the blisters begin to heal from the pilgrimage, the time has come to find an appropriate present for Mother because Aug. 15 is the Día de la Madre here. This, too, is a national holiday.
The celebration of the Anexión de Nicoya and the Día de la Madre both fall on a Friday this year, so there is a three-day weekend for many workers. Aug. 2 is a Saturday.