April 11, known as Juan Santamaría Day, is a public holiday in Costa Rica. However, as April 11 falls on a Friday this year, the holiday will be celebrated on the following Monday, April 14, as decreed by the country’s labor law.
The directive is designed to ensure all workers enjoy a long weekend. April 14 is a paid holiday, and anyone who works that day has the right to double pay.
Those companies who cannot move the day off to April 14, either because they primarily work on weekends and so Monday is normally a day off or because their business cannot feasibly be stopped on that day, are required to arrange with their employees a different day that may be taken off within the following 15 days.
The holiday commemorates one of Costa Rica’s most famous national heroes.
In 1856, U.S. citizen William Walker was waging war in Central America, aiming to take control of the region and establish a slave-trading empire. Costa Rica fought him at the Battle of Rivas. Juan Santamaría, a young drummer-boy from Alajuela, set fire to a hostel where the invading troops were staying, inflicting heavy losses on the Walker’s troops, but was killed in the process.
The country’s primary national airport, in Alajuela, northwest of San José, is named after him.