Thursday, July 29, 2010

Costa Rican Holiday

Church of the Virgin of the Angels during 2007...Image via Wikipedia August 2 is a holiday in Costa Rica. Everyone gets the day off. It is not presidents' day or veterans' day, but the it has to do with a young girl. The story of how this became a holiday goes back some time. A young girl, Juana Pereira, went out to gather firewood. She found an image of the Virgin Mary about eight inches high. She took the image home. The next day she saw another image and took that home. She thought she now had two images. When she got home, the image from the preceding day was not there. Juana kept finding images and they kept disappearing. She gave an image to the priest and it also disappeared. When the priest went into the woods, he found the image on a rock. She wanted to build a church on the spot.
This traditional story has become a symbol of equality in Costa Rico. The Virgin Mary is a symbol of equality of all people regardless of the color of their skin. A beautiful byzantine church was built in the area in Cartago. On August 2 the day that commemorates Juana Pereira's story, people flock from all over the country and walk to the great church in Cartago. People who cannot walk to Cartago have local walks to their area churches. The highways are full of pilgrims walking to their churches. Traffic slows down and moves along with the pilgrims.
This is just one way that the people of Costa Rica express their spirit and their traditions. All people have their local customs. Understanding customs helps us understand others and ourselves.
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