National Holidays: Panama Celebrates its History Throughout the Month of November
Although each day represents something different, what each holiday has in common is that they represent a great military victory or a patriotic achievement. All of them represent great steps for Panama to become independent, and each has its own regional and national significance.
November 3: Independence Day of Colombia, or "Separation of Colombia." Many expatriates may not know, but Panama was eleven years a part of Colombia, before the US. UU. they will help leverage military support (1903), as part of the original negotiations to obtain the rights of the Canal.
Independence Day of Colombia
November 4: Flag Day. This day is more a general example of military pride and national pride. It is not a celebration as big as some of the others, but it is still full of fanfare, music and parades.
November 5: Columbus Day. This day celebrates the liberation of the city and the port of Colon, on the north coast of the Caribbean coast of Panama. Despite declaring the independence of Colombia a few days before, a Colombian battalion hid in Colon. This day celebrates the final battle and the official end of the era controlled by Colombia.
November 10: The first cry of independence. This commemorates the beginning of the battle for independence with Spain. The movement began west of the capital, in Los Santos, and would be the catalyst for the independence of the entire country shortly after.
November 28: Independence Day of Spain, or "Independence of Spain." After the uprising in Los Santos, the movement quickly spread throughout the country, finally reaching the capital. With most of the colonial military in Spain, and a short battle, the Spanish left, beginning the first period of post colonialism and independence of Panama.
Independence Day of Spain
How do Panamanians celebrate the November holidays?
Due to its patriotic nature and historical significance, each holiday has a variety of parades, speeches and cultural events to show the local colors of Panama. Traditional food and costumes are typical in most celebrations, and throughout the country, music bands compete for supremacy, showing a year of practice with local music and rhythms. It is a very relaxed scene in the parades, and people like to march and dance with the bands or with them all day.
In addition to the parades and official celebrations, the "Fiestas Patrias" are a great period of internal tourism. The city tends to empty, and beach towns and inland destinations tend to be quite crowded. Think of it as the weekend of July 4, but it is repeated 3-4 times in a month. If you plan to travel to the beaches or other tourist locations in the country, be sure to book ahead and expect lots of people and lots of traffic. Non-tourism businesses across the country essentially stop completely and schools are closed.
Fiestas Patrias, Panama
In general, it is a good time to visit Panama, whether you come from abroad, or already live here. It is the happiest moment, in one of the happiest countries, and a great expression of national pride and history.