Happy 31 of October. Day of the Mascarada Costarricense.


This 31 of October the better known party worldwide will be Halloween’s day. While many Costa Ricans do celebrate and especially party hard on Halloween, there is other tradition to remember and celebrate. And that keeps certain resemblance with Halloween. This celebrations is the Masacarada Costarricense.

The Masacarada is an activity legacy of the colony that resulted from the merged of Indian and Spanish traditions, many parallels could be drawn towards the march of the Cabezudos and Gigantes (Big heads and Giants). In both of this traditions the figures march with a local band playing popular music. The origins of the Cabezudos is traceable to the Reconquista. But here in Latina America this march of historical figures merge with the stories, traditions legends, and folklore of the Indians.

The Parlamplanes

In Costa Rica the roots of this tradition is found in the “Parlamplanes”. In Cartago during the colony the most humble and poor among the inhabitants of the city where known as the Parlamplanes.  During the festivities this people dressed in funny and silly ways. Holding masks dancing and persuiting the other parishioners in between activities.

The first one record.

The first Masacarada on record goes back to a man named Rafael Valerín. Rafael born in “La Puebla de los Pardos” was a man of many talents and professions. In 1824 while working in the church of our Lady of the Angeles. Rafel discovered on an old chest with the heads of several Cabezones from Spain. He closed the chest and ran away just to discover another head in a near corner. He then interpreted than that was a sign given by the Virgin Mary. He then took the head and build wooden  frame build the first Giganta.  The next 2 of august Cartago had its first Masacrada.


1996 and the first day of the Masacarada Tradicional Costarricense.

Every 31st of October since 1996. Costa Rica celebrates the day of the Mascarad Tica. The initiative started in Aserrí, a canton well known by their Masacaradas and craftsmen. The idea was to regain terrain against foreign festivities as Halloween. Many of the characters that parade during the Mascarada are related to myths and legends of Latin america. And so the idea was to use the spookiness of the date to draw attention to those old stories of haunted souls and pyscompompos that use to haunt the dreams of our grandfathers.

Becoming the traditions that is today.

As a result of this fusion, the Mascarada Costarricense has several usual characters. as El Diablo [the Devil], La giganta [Female giant], La bruja [The witch], La muerte [Death]. And some characters from the myths and legends of the Costa Rican folkore as “El Cadejos”, “La Segua” and the “Padre sin Cabeza” [Headless Priest].

In contrast to the traditions of the Gigantes and Cabezones where the figures try to accurate represent historical figures. In Costa Rica the characters are caricaturizare. That is why is common to see politicians, sportsmen, and media personalities dancing among El Diablo y la Giganta at the rhythm of the cimarrona.

Now a days the usual method of manufacture for the characters of the Mascarada is a mixture of plaster, paper mache for the faces of the characters and metal and wooden frames for the bodies. The frames are hide with clothes that sever as dresses for the characters. Also and in addition the sleeves are usually long. Giving and extra movement and occasionally hitting those distracted.

Every Masacarada needs a Cimarrona. A Cimarrona an arrangements of percussive and wind instruments. That plays popular music mixing in the latín and carnival rhythms. While cimarronas once used to be informal bands. Today they are compose by profesional or semiprofessional musicians. With schedule rehearsals and performances, ready to be hire at demand.

That be part of a Cimarrona requieres and a high level of commitment and execution. To be part of a mascarada means to have an excelente physical condition, and an outstanding scene of rhythm. The Mascarada is a beloved Costa Rica tradition impossible to miss in every festivity.



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