Mother’s Day is considered one of the most important holidays on the calendar in family-centric Costa Rican culture. It’s a day to honor the profound contributions mothers make to their families and society. This celebration of maternity provides a chance for Costa Ricans to show heartfelt appreciation for everything their mothers sacrifice and provide throughout the year.
When Mother’s Day rolls around each August in Costa Rica, citizens strive to make the day uniquely special for the maternal figures in their lives. Festive traditions, tasty food, thoughtful gifts and quality time spent with loved ones make this a revered day to recognize just how cherished mothers are.
When is Mother’s Day in Costa Rica?
The traditional date for Mother’s Day in Costa Rica is August 15. This places it close to the Feast of the Assumption on August 15th, a Catholic celebration of Mary’s ascent into heaven. Religion has profoundly shaped cultural traditions here, so tying Mother’s Day to this holy date was fitting.
However, a practical problem arises when August 15 falls on a weekday. Having a holiday midweek disrupts work and school schedules. So the government decided to move any official holidays landing on weekdays to the following Monday.
Therefore, the actual legal holiday for Mother’s Day varies each year. If August 15 happens to be on a Saturday or Sunday, the holiday remains that date. But during years when the 15th is Monday to Friday, the day off moves to the next available Monday.
In 2022 for example, August 15 was a Monday, so Mother’s Day was officially observed then. But in 2023, the 15th will be on a Tuesday, meaning the holiday shifts to Monday instead.
This creates an interesting split where Costa Ricans unofficially celebrate moms on the traditional August 15 date, but also get the following Monday off work and school to continue festivities. It provides the chance to dedicate both a true August 15th and official day off to honoring maternal bonds.
History and Origins
Mother’s Day as a conceived holiday originated in the United States in the early 20th century before spreading internationally. Countries throughout the Americas and across the globe eventually adopted their own versions of this celebration of maternity.
In Costa Rica, Mother’s Day took hold largely thanks to efforts by the nonprofit Center for Study and Conservation of Costa Rican Cultural Patrimony. Their goals included reviving and preserving cultural traditions on the brink of extinction in modern times.
The organization was founded in 1939 by historian Teodorico “Don Chico” Quirós Alvarado and Father Francisco María Solís Gil. In 1941, they began promoting an official Mother’s Day holiday modeled after the version started decades prior in the U.S. by Anna Jarvis.
Their proposal gained little traction initially until receiving backing from Archbishop Víctor Manuel Sanabria Martínez of the Catholic Church. With his vocal support, the national holiday was officially established on August 15, 1942.
The date was strategically selected to tie to Catholic traditions and the Feast of the Assumption. Mother’s Day quickly became an important part of the nation’s cultural fabric, blending traditional family values with modern commercialization.
Mothers Day Unique Traditions in Costa Rican
Mother’s Day is considered an occasion to pamper and dote on mothers with tokens of love, appreciation and quality time together. Common traditions include:
- Making or purchasing breakfast in bed for mom and delivering it on a decorated tray
- Preparing mom’s favorite meals and desserts
- Giving cards and handmade gifts like photo albums documenting special memories
- Surprising moms with flowers, balloons, cakes, and other tokens of affection
- Treating her to a meal at a nice restaurant or tickets to a show
- Gathering the whole family together, including grandmothers and great-grandmothers
- Taking family photos dressed up in honor of the matriarch
- Serenading moms with their favorite songs or musical performances
- Letting mom relax while others take over chores and care for younger children
- Making artwork, cards and crafts as homemade gifts from the heart
Many adult children who’ve moved away also try to visit their mothers if feasible. Some employers even give a few hours or a half day off on August 15th so employees can spend time with their families for this special event.
Public Mother’s Day events are also common, like festivals with food, music and activities specially designed to entertain mothers and their loved ones. Politicians sometimes hold public ceremonies to pay homage as well.
Commercialization has increased over the years, with more emphasis on giving store-bought presents, cards and flowers. But homemade gifts and quality time remain at the heart of most family traditions. Showing heartfelt care, not material goods, is considered the best way to make mothers feel special.
Over the generations, Costa Rican mothers have been showered with abundant love, recognition and presents each August. The holiday remains a mainstay celebrating the glue holding families together and all that mothers do. It provides a cherished occasion to honor their sacrifices and give back a small fraction of what they constantly contribute.