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Masquerade Day (La Mascarada) 2023

An authentic Helloween tradition of Costa Rica


Last updated: by Dari Vasiljeva
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Masquerade Day or La Mascarada is a Costa Rican adaptation of Halloween, which is celebrated on October 31st. The colorful parade of giant masks is an authentic local tradition that dates back to the pre-Colombian customs, Carnival, and shows of giants during the times of Spanish colonization. The first masquerade was held in Cartago in 1824. After more than 100 years, in 1996, it was decided to revive the tradition. October 31 was officially declared the Dia de la Mascarada Tradicional Costarricense. Besides, downtown Cartago, you can watch large masquerade parades in the towns of Escazu (Escazu Central Park), Aserri (Aserri Park), and Barva de Heredia (downtown).

Giant costumed puppets march the streets with music and dances. Small music bands, called cimarronas, accompany the processions. Large puppet heads are prepared by local artists with craft paper and various materials. Escazu artisans are especially renowned for creating unique masks. They represent traditional Costa Rican folk characters like El Diablo and la Muerte. There is also el Padre sin Cabeza la Segua, a legendary headless ghost that appears to men and women who stay up late. Also meet la Llorona, a female ghost that wonders along river banks and scares kids. In recent years, you can also see masks of various popular culture characters at the parades, especially those that are loved by children.

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