Festival of the Yeguita dance, image by Voice of Guanacaste

Festival of the Yeguita in Costa Rica, photo by Outward Bound Costa Rica

What do a little black mare and the Virgin of Guadalupe have to do with Christmas traditions in Costa Rica?

Virgin of GuadalupeOne of the more interesting Christmastime festivals held in Costa Rica is the Festival of “La Yeguita” (the little mare) on December 12. Held annually on the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica, the celebration combines traditional native beliefs and Roman Catholic customs.

According to the University of Costa Rica, the indigenous legend tells about two brothers caught in a machete-fight over a girl. People leaving the local church saw the fight and started praying to the Virgin of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Nicoya and the Americas, for a miracle. At that moment, a small black mare appeared, running between the fighting brothers to separate them and stop the conflict. The Festival of “La Yeguita” coincides with the Roman Catholic celebration of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

The celebration on Dec. 12, in the city of Nicoya on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula, features a procession with a man dressed as the “little mare” dancing with another man carrying a statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe to the music of flutes and drums. The procession leads to the Catholic Church for a mass, and afterward, there is food, concerts and general dancing.

Yoga beachfront at Hotel Tropico LatinoWhere to stay on the Nicoya Peninsula

Santa Teresa, Costa Rica on the southern Nicoya Peninsula is known as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. It is a place with warm and clear Pacific Ocean, spectacular sunsets over the sea, and the home of Hotel Tropico Latino. The Santa Teresa beachfront hotel specializes in Costa Rica surf holidays and yoga retreats in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. They feature comfortable and charming accommodations, a beachfront spa, yoga classes and an award-winning restaurant.

Article by Shannon Farley


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