Ahhh…November and all of its glory is here in Panama. Put aside your work, your troubles and any plan of accomplishing anything productive. To put it bluntly, November is a long month of celebrations, parades and parties. Many government offices are closed or working on abbreviated schedules, streets are randomly closed for parades and basic day-to-day tasks are put on hold.
Lets start understanding November.
November 2nd – Dia de los Muertos. Today Panamanians celebrate in reverence those that they have lost. The cemeteries are crowded with families cleaning grave sites of debris, touching up painted crosses and leaving flowers for loved ones. Don’t worry if you didn’t buy flowers in advance, the streets near cemeteries are crowded with flower vendors making a colorful site. Unlike many Central American countries, Panama’s Dia de los Muertos is a subdued celebration. Liquor sales are prohibited and loud music is a definite no-no. Don’t worry, the rest of the month will make up for the somber mood of the second.
November 3rd – Day of Separation. Today celebrates the 1903 separation from Colombia (also known as “Gran Colombia” as it also included Venezuela, Ecuador, northern Peru, western Guyana and parts of Brazil. Separation Day is not to be confused with Independence Day, although many locals, including my husband don’t make a distinction and just call it Independence Day. This is one of those times its nice to be knowledgable, without the need to be right. Expect lots of parades, music and drinks all around.
November 4th – Flag Day. Or simply, the day you will see nothing but red, white and blue! Flags stream from light posts, ceilings, balconies, cars, people, and animals. Don’t be intimidated by the national pride, instead feel free to join in the celebration. Just like yesterday (the 3rd) expect lats of parades, music and drinks all around.
November 5th – Colon Day. Yep, we are still celebrating the independence movement. The story is Panamanians officials bribed Colombian forces in Colon not to fight Panama’s separation from Gran Colombia. With no fight, Panama became officially independent and became yet another day of celebration. Get your party on if you haven’t already started!
November 10th – “Primer Grito de Independencia de la Villa de los Santos”. If you haven’t already grasped the independence movement, you have another chance. November 10th is celebrated as the beginning of the independence movement from Spain.
November 28th – Independence Day. Today Panama (as part of Colombia) celebrates its official independence from Spain in 1821. This is the “other” independence day, not to be confused by November 3rd, although, as I stated you may hear the names used interchangeably.
So, my friends, that concludes November in Panama. If you are still standing congratulations!!
NOTE: It is advised to find an ATM before the celebrations start, many machines run out of money early on in the party!