According to the traditional account, on April 11, General José María Cañas (Salvadoran) suggested that one of the soldiers advance towards the hostel with a torch and set it on fire. Some soldiers tried and failed, but finally Santamaría volunteered on the condition that, in the event of his death, someone would look after his mother. He then advanced and was mortally wounded by enemy fire. Before expiring he succeeded, however, in setting fire to the hostel, thus contributing decisively to the Costa Rican victory at Rivas.
This account is apparently supported by a petition for a state pension filed on November 1857 by Santamaría’s mother, as well as by government documents showing that the pension was granted. Various historians, however, have questioned whether the account is accurate, and if Santamaria died or not during that battle or another one. At any rate, towards the end of the 19th century, Costa Rican intellectuals and politicians seized on the war against Walker and on the figure of Juan Santamaría for nationalist purposes.
The days leading up to the national holiday on April 11 are celebrated with parades, concerts, dances and marching bands throughout the country, but festivities are particularly centered around the city of Alajuela. Ticos celebrate in style eating traditional foods and enjoying the special events. If you should visit at this time you will come to understand the real significance of Juan Santamaria Day.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia