According to information provided by the Cultural Heritage Center, this tradition originated in 1804, where these records indicate that the Black Christ of Esquipulas was brought from Guatemala, but due to adverse situations it was hidden in the middle of two coyol palms where It was found by Mrs. Bernabela Ramos, who donated part of her land to have a hermitage created for said image.
Bernabella Ramos is the daughter of Miguel Ramos and Juana Sequeira, both of Spanish origin, who arrived in Nicoyan lands in 1760, since the Spanish crown gave them 56 stables of land within the region.
Some time later, according to an article published by the UNED, Bernabella married and lived in Las Delicias, as the Santa Cruz canton was formerly known.
The history of the origin of Santo Cristo de Esquipulas in the canton has been changing as the years have passed. According to the Cultural Heritage Center, another of the origins of the figure was when an indigenous man found it, between two coyol plants, when he was cutting firewood. The villager tried to take the image to the town, but when he looked for it again, he never found it, until it returned to the same point where it was first seen.
For the year 1841 the parish that currently houses the Christ was founded. This work began its construction in 1835 and ended two years later. By 1898, the temple was officially finished, but two years later it suffered several damages, including one of the towers, which to this day has not been repaired; all this due to the tremor that was experienced at that time.
As mentioned above, this tradition is made up of six main activities that focus on the religious aspect of the festivities:
-La Vela: This is one of the most traditional activities of the festivities, which consists in the devotees making the payment of a promise, for a favor granted by the Christ of Esquipulas during the Demand.
The people who are going to do La Vela, have to speak with the butlers to coordinate the day and time. During this activity, the participants pray the rosary, sing the ancient praise and distribute food. On certain occasions, these activities are set to the rhythm of the music of the marimbas and guitars until dawn, which is when the activity officially ends.
-The Demand: It consists of the mayordomo traveling with the image of the Christ of Esquipulas to each of the houses until the entire canton of Santa Cruz is covered. In general, this activity takes place for several months, specifically between November and May. During the tour, a bell rings indicating to the devotees the arrival of the image to their homes.
–El turno to Esquipulas: In many towns there is a custom that, after the Demand is carried out, a shift is held in honor of the sacred image. Many devotees, as thanksgiving for the good harvest and health of their animals, offer a certain part of their earnings so that they can be sold on the shift.
-Entrance, Eve and Festivity: The Demand generally ends on January 13, in the town of Arado, so that Eve begins with a vigil to Santa Cruz, which ends at 3 in the afternoon, to a house in where they prepare the Christ for the Entrance.
The Eve begins at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, when the devotees prepare to wait for the sacred image. An hour later, the Christ makes his well-known entry into Santa Cruz, at which time the typical festivities of the town can be considered as having begun.
At this time, the streets of Santa Cruz are decorated with flowers, palms and paper ribbons of various colors, in the form of garlands. This procession is led by the altar boys of the church, later the children dressed as angels, the Promesan Indians follow, and at the end is the Christ of Esquipulas.
-The Dance of the Promesan Indians
This is a very representative activity of the festivities, which consists of a group of people dressed as indigenous people performing dances and songs to the Santo Cristo de Esquipulas, during La Demanda.
The group is made up of: A couple of Captains, who lead the group; a couple of “old” Indians, who represent middle age; many “intermediate” indigenous couples, who identify the children of the family; and a couple from Cumiches, who play the role of children in the family.