Panama’s Mes de la Patria Is Full Of Fiestas And Mas Mananas
Today, the first of November, is the official start of the holiday season in Panama.
Before Panamanians get to their Christmas celebrating, they spend a month celebrating being Panamanians.
First up, this Tuesday, Nov. 3, is Independence Day… followed Wednesday, Nov. 4, by Flag Day… followed Thursday, Nov. 5, by Colon Day. That last one is like Columbus Day in the States, remembering Christopher’s arrival in the New World.
Then comes the Cry For Independence In Los Santos Day (in Spanish, it’s the Primer Grito de la Independencia), Nov. 10, when the villagers of Los Santos wrote a letter to Simon Bolivar complaining about the Spanish and asking for some revolutionary assistance.
Then, Saturday, Nov. 28, Panamanians celebrate Independence Day.
But, wait, didn’t they already celebrate Independence Day? Yes… and no. That first holiday, back on Nov. 3, that was to remember independence from Colombia (in 1903). This holiday on Nov. 28 remembers freedom from Spain, in 1821, 18 days after the cry for independence in Los Santos.
Four of those five celebrations are official national holidays; some businesses in some parts of the country take Flag Day off, too.
With Tuesday and Thursday this week being holidays, why not take Monday and Friday off, too, most of Panama figures…and if you’re taking off Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, why bother with work on Wednesday?
And so it goes throughout the month.
Starting today and continuing through this month and then carrying over into next, with Mother’s Day on Dec. 8 (another national holiday) and then Christmas, Panama is on pause. For the past two months, children across the country have been rehearsing, practicing their marching, beating their drums, and showing their colors.
The parades and other festivities are great, of course… but don’t count on getting a lot of business taken care of this month or next. Panamanians take their celebrating seriously.
If you’ve plans to be in Panama over the next eight or nine weeks, my advice is to adjust your expectations now. This month and next, anything you might want to do (open a bank account, process a residency visa, look at real estate for sale, have a new refrigerator delivered to your home, etc.) will take two or three times longer than usual.
Under the best of circumstances, Panama is not a study in efficiencies. During the Mes de la Patria, manana loses its usual sense of urgency.
If you do happen to be in Panama over the coming several weeks for any reason, please stop in at our offices to say hello. I fear Lief and I may get lonely.