Exploring Costa Rica’s Enthralling Fiesta de los Diablitos

fiesta de los diablitos

Ever danced with the devil under a Costa Rican moon? Okay, not really devils but rather ‘diablitos’, little devils. The Fiesta de los Diablitos, is an unforgettable experience that pulls you into a vibrant world of tradition and celebration.

Picture this: hand-carved wooden masks brought to life by village men; intense battles against bull-costumed figures representing Spanish conquerors. All in a place where church bells ring out over lush green mountainsides…

This isn’t just some yearly party—it’s an indigenous celebration tracing back centuries! It’s history unfolding through dance, song, and even fiery liquor made from fermented corn.

Stick with me, and I guarantee you’ll walk away not only enriched by the knowledge of Boruca culture and heritage but also laden with unforgettable memories. We’re about to delve deep into this captivating event.

Understanding the Fiesta de los Diablitos

If you’ve ever been to Costa Rica, you might have heard about the Fiesta de los Diablitos. But what makes this event so special? This fiesta is not just any celebration. It’s a unique cultural event that resonates with historical significance and vibrant traditions.

This annual gathering in both Boruca and Rey Curre draws over 2,500 villagers and several hundred visitors each year. The spectacle of “los diablitos en costa rica” brings together an array of colorful masks carved from balsa wood, elaborate costumes made from banana leaves and cloth sacks, mock battles with a bull costume representing Spanish colonists – all culminating into an exciting visual feast.

The festival takes its roots from indigenous resistance against Spanish colonization. It symbolizes the struggle between native Borucas (diablitos) represented by men wearing wooden masks depicting devils, and Spaniards (the Bull), as they perform traditional dances recounting their historic conflict.

The role of the Fiesta in Costa Rican culture

Intricately woven into Costa Rica’s rich tapestry, la Fiesta embodies resilience while preserving centuries-old customs passed down through generations. Not only does it contribute to Costa Rica’s identity but also enhances understanding among people who are new to these traditions.

During three days spanning December till January’s dawn when church bells ring signaling victory for ‘los diablitos’, community members unite celebrating their heritage amid joyous feasting & music – making it one lively cultural exchange platform. As night falls on the final day though, expect some serious action because ‘el toro’, fueled by village men morphs back into a tree trunk signifying conquistadores’ retreat. Now that’s a plot twist you wouldn’t want to miss.

Historical Roots of the Fiesta de los Diablitos

The Fiesta de los Diablitos, or Festival of Little Devils, has a deep-seated place in Costa Rica’s cultural history. This festival is an alternate retelling of Spanish conquest as celebrated by the Boruca indigenous community.

The Boruca People and their Resistance

Around 500 years ago, conquistadores españoles landed on what is now known as Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast. Unlike other native tribes who succumbed to the invaders’ force, the resilient Boruca people put up fierce resistance.

Boruca warriors donned balsa wood masks depicting diabolical faces – becoming ‘los diablitos’. They used these terrifying disguises to frighten off their adversaries during night-time raids.

This audacious tactic was not only effective but also became deeply embedded within their culture. The annual re-enactment allows them to assert that they never truly fell under Spanish rule – making it more than just a historical event; it’s a celebration of resilience and identity for every member of this proud tribe.

In essence, each performance at the fiesta represents this powerful narrative where brave ‘diablitos’, clad in hand-carved boruca masks go against ‘el toro’, representing the colonizing Spanish force.

Rituals at Fiesta de los Diablitos

Symbolism and Rituals at the Fiesta de los Diablitos

The spectacle begins with an elder blowing on a conch shell to summon village men who wear elaborate costumes crafted from balsa wood masks and cloth sacks.

One of the central figures in this cultural event is ‘El Toro’, which represents Spanish conquistadors. This bull costume made by Boruca artisans embodies Costa Rica’s past struggle against colonizers.

The Significance of Masks in the Festival

Masks are not mere decorative items here; they carry deep significance. They depict ‘Los Diablitos’ or little devils, symbolizing indigenous people who resisted conquest. Every detail carved into these balsa wood masks tells a story about their fight for freedom.

Intricately designed, these masks serve as reminders of their ancestors’ courage and resilience against adversities faced during the colonization era. An estimated 2500 villagers participate each year, bearing witness to history through dance and performance.

A mock battle ensues where Los Diablitos take on El Toro under church bells ringing out across town – representing the confrontation between native Borucas and Spanish invaders. But unlike actual historical events, it’s always Los Diablitos that emerge victorious after three days of performances signifying the enduring spirit of indigenous communities.

Note: Visitors are charged $10 for photo-taking rights – so be sure to have some change handy.

Experiencing the Fiesta de los Diablitos

Visiting Costa Rica during the Fiesta de los Diablitos, or Festival of Little Devils, is a unique experience that brings you face-to-face with centuries-old indigenous traditions. This festival takes place twice annually, once in Boruca and once in Rey Curre.

Participating in the Fiesta de los Diablitos

The celebration begins at sunset when an elder blows on a conch shell to signal its start. It’s thrilling. Villagers and visitors gather around a fire while wearing elaborate costumes made from banana leaves, cloth sacks, and intricately carved balsa wood masks.

You can’t help but get swept up in it all as villagers perform traditional dances symbolizing their ancestors’ resistance against Spanish conquistadors. There are even mock battles with one villager dressed up as ‘El Toro’, representing the Spanish colonists.

A short break gives everyone time to rest before church bells ring out at dawn announcing round two of this spirited fiesta.

If you’re keen on capturing these magical moments through your lens, just remember there’s a $10 charge for taking photos. It might seem unusual but it helps support this proud community keep their cultural heritage alive. Here are more attractions you should check out while visiting Costa Rica.

Traditional Food and Drink at the Fiesta de los Diablitos

As with any cultural celebration, food and drink are vital parts of the Fiesta de los Diablitos. This indigenous festival in Costa Rica is no exception. One such traditional beverage integral to this fiesta is a fermented corn concoction called “chica”.

This refreshing brew holds an esteemed place during the festivities due to its long-standing history within the Boruca community. Served from large cloth sacks, chica acts as both refreshment and symbol of unity for those attending.

Made from fermented corn kernels, water, sugar cane juice, or sometimes honey; it’s brewed over several days until achieving a sweet yet slightly sour flavor profile that many liken to kombucha or cider.

Apart from “chica”, participants also indulge in local foods made using banana leaves as cookware which further imparts unique flavors into their dishes.

The love for traditional recipes like tamales filled with chicken or pork and seasoned rice wrapped up neatly inside these versatile leaves embodies more than just culinary skills—it represents years of ancestral wisdom passed down through generations.

The Joyful Blend of Tradition & Taste

It’s not just about satisfying taste buds but preserving age-old customs that have been practiced by our ancestors since time immemorial—right here in beautiful Costa Rica.

You can’t truly understand what makes la fiesta de los diablitos so special without taking part in these shared meals around roaring fires under starlit skies—a ritual meant to foster stronger bonds among members while keeping traditions alive.

Note: Be mindful when sampling these treats because they’re often spicy. But don’t worry—you’ll find plenty of other delightful dishes to enjoy if your palate prefers milder flavors.

In essence, food and drink at the Fiesta de los Diablitos is much more than mere sustenance—it’s a reflection of community spirit, heritage preservation, and above all—a testament to the indomitable spirit of the Boruca people.

Key Takeaway: Every taste and toast at the Fiesta de los Diablitos isn’t just for pleasure. It’s a celebration of age-old traditions, safeguarding our roots, and building stronger bonds within the community. Whether it’s enjoying “chica”, a fermented corn brew that stands for unity, or relishing dishes wrapped in banana leaf that capture generations of knowledge—each mouthful narrates an enriching tale from Boruca culture.

Impact of Fiesta de los Diablitos on Costa Rican Tourism

The Fiesta de los Diablitos, held in the Puntarenas province, plays a significant role in promoting tourism. This vibrant cultural event draws several hundred visitors each year.

Costa Rica’s rich tapestry of traditions offers a unique appeal to tourists worldwide. The Boruca indigenous community’s celebration stands as a testament to this allure. By participating, tourists get an authentic glimpse into Costa Rica’s past and its living culture.

This festival is not just about fancy wooden masks or elaborate costumes; it tells tales of resistance against Spanish conquistadors and upholds Boruca men’s skills in carving balsa wood masks. These elements provide travelers with experiences that transcend typical tourist activities.

Bridging Cultural Gaps through Immersive Experiences

Tourists often seek immersive experiences when they travel, seeking connections with local communities beyond superficial interactions. “Experiencing” rather than simply observing has become the new norm for many travelers.

In this context, Los Diablitos Festival emerges as an opportunity for cultural immersion where visitors can engage directly with locals and their customs. This interaction enhances understanding between cultures while enriching Costa Rica’s image as a destination full of history and vibrancy – adding depth to its already appealing sandy beaches and lush rainforests.

A Boost for Local Economy

The economic benefits are also noteworthy. Festivals like these support local artisans who create stunning hand-carved masks – attracting collectors from all over the world. Also contributing to job creation within service sectors such as hospitality and transportation during peak festival times.

Impact of Fiesta de los Diablitos

FAQs in Relation to Fiesta De Los Diablitos

¿Cuándo se celebra la fiesta de los diablitos?

¿Dónde se celebra la fiesta de los diablitos?

This unique festival takes place in the villages of Boruca and Rey Curre on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast.

¿Dónde se originó el baile de los diablitos?

The dance originated with the indigenous Boruca people as an act of resistance against Spanish colonizers.

¿Qué se hace en el baile de los diablitos?

In this dance, participants don elaborate masks and costumes to enact mock battles symbolizing their ancestors’ resistance against colonial forces.


The Fiesta de los Diablitos isn’t just a festival, it’s an explosion of culture and history. It paints vivid tales of resistance against Spanish colonizers, all in the guise of dance and music.

Boruca artisans carve intricate masks from balsa wood while others don elaborate costumes for mock battles with bull-costumed figures representing Spanish conquerors. Every clang of church bells reverberates across lush green mountainsides, drawing you deeper into this indigenous celebration.

This event not only enriches Costa Rica’s cultural tapestry but also fuels its tourism industry. With each traditional fermented corn beverage sipped or hand-crafted mask admired by visitors like you, Boruca heritage lives on.

You’re no longer merely spectators; through understanding comes respect and appreciation for this vibrant tradition that continues to flourish amidst modernity.

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