Boyeros provide the muscle for Nicoya festival

A festival that has its roots in at least the 17th century begins slowly Saturday in Nicoya.

Saturday is the  Contadera de Días in which in Colonial times residents would use kernels of dried corn to mark the days until the big celebration Dec. 12. That will be the Festejos de la Virgen de Guadalupe 2014.

But a week later, Nov. 8, is the time to chop wood for the celebration. This is the Pica e´ leña that begins with a gathering of an expected 40 or more boyeros or oxcart drivers and their animals at the  Cofradía or casa de la Virgen de Guadalupe in  Nicoya. They gather at 3 a.m., cook breakfast, usually pozol and tortillas washed down with coffee.

Then they begin a trip of some three kilometers to the property of the  Enema family in Casitas. This is a tradition of at least some 450 years.

The idea is to chop wood (pica e´ leña) for the festival the following month.

These runups to the festival are less known than the Dec. 11 and 12 celebration, when the Virgin will be honored with the  Baile de la Yegüita, based on the tale that a horse once broke up a machete fight between two brothers.

The festival and the wood cutting almost certainly has its roots in pre-Columbian societies.

They really do chop wood as part of the celebration, as shown in this file photo.

They really do chop wood as part of the celebration, as shown in this file photo.

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