October 31st is the day when Halloween is celebrated in many countries including Costa Rica. Halloween is becoming more popular every year in this country with many stores selling costumes and decorations. Halloween parties and contests for the best costume takes places all over the Country, especially in the Central Valley. For instance, San Pedro’s Hiponotik Bar (Tel: 8978-8119) expects some 400 people to attend this year’s Halloween festivities and Castro’s Bar (2256-8789) will also offer activities. Many expats have private Halloween parties on this date, too.
Coincidentally, October 31st is also “el Día Nacional de la Mascarada Traditional de Costa Rica.” The Traditional Costa Rican Masquerade is a popular annual event that has its roots in the country’s colonial era. Different local characters and famous personalities like ex-presidents and TV stars are depicted with big-head masks. People wearing these masks walk through the streets of the towns chasing spectators and dancing to the music of cimarronas.
In 1997, by Executive Order No. 25724, October 31st was officially declared Costa Rican Traditional Masquerade day. Different communities around the country schedule parades, workshops, dances and the sale of typical foods to celebrate this festivity.
The colorful big-head masks are usually made of fiberglass. The mascareros or master mask makers spend days elaborating their masks prior to this yearly event.
La Mascarada is just one of the many deeply-rooted cultural events that expat retirees can experience while living in Costa Rica.