Yegüita festival in Nicoya is estimated to be the 470th annual

The community of Nicoya is celebrating this week what probably is a tradition at least 470 years old.

It is the celebration in honor of the Virgen de Guadalupe. The religious festival is being sponsored in part by the Municipalidad de Nicoya.

The festival began Nov. 8 where the devotees of the Virgin went to the woods to cut fuel for the event this Friday. There also were prayer services at Curime, Tierra Blanca, Casitas, Río Grande, Pedernal, Barrio Los Angeles and in several places in Nicoya Centro.

The story of the festival has an unusual origin. On a Dec. 12 more than four and a half centuries ago, locals were returning from a Mass in honor of the Virgin. But two brothers had been hitting the bottle and had become aggressive toward each other.

The weapon of choice were machetes.

The church goers were dismayed. They feared that one brother would kill the other. So they prayed to the Virgin.

The prayers were answered by the arrival of a yegüita, a little horse, that bit and kicked the two brothers until they stopped fighting.

This is the origin of the Baile de la Yegüita that takes place Friday at noon.  This is a big tourist draw.

There will be a procession with a statue of the Virgin. Preceding it will be dancers. One costumed dancer will play

Mural of the Yeguita and the two brothers at the Cofradia de la Virgen de Guadalupe in Nicoya.

Mural of the Yeguita and the two brothers at the Cofradia de la Virgen de Guadalupe in Nicoya.

the role of the horse. Historians think that this procession is at least 450 years old.

The festival starts today.  Friday the activities begin with a Mass celebrated by Msgr. Victorino Girardi, bishop of Tilarán.  At 8 p.m. there is a candle-light procession.

The religious observance is in the hands of the Servidores de la Cofradía de la Virgen de Guadalupe.

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