November Holidays

A glance back to this past November reveals that Panamá celebrated at least 6 holidays. Panamanians love to party, and any excuse brings on parades and revelry. November may be the noisiest month on the calendar for this country.

Five of these 6 celebrations occur in the first 10 days of the month. History has dealt a full hand to Panamá. The holidays begin on November 3 with Separation Day when Panamanians rejoice that they have shaken off the reins of Colombia. The countries were originally one. The separation is logical if for no other reason than the Darian jungle is a natural barrier creating two jurisdictions. This is probably the second biggest holiday in the month.

The very next day, November 4, is Flag Day, an important piece of cloth symbolizing the country’s independence. Of the world’s 195 countries, 29 have red, white, and blue flags, including Panamá. There are many theories why these three colors are used on so many national flags. One theory is that red and blue are  easily obtained dyes, while white is used to be a buffer between the red and blue. A post-industrial theory is that many modern flags are derivates of strong nationalities – Great Britain, France, and the United States. Whatever the derivates of the Panamanian flag, white stands for peace, blue for the conservative party, and red for the liberal party. Each party has its colored star.

Continuing the pattern of one holiday after another, Colón Day comes next on November 5. Colón is a city at the Northern end of the Panamá Canal. The day is important not only for the city but also for the country as it signifies the day in Colón when its citizens stopped the invasion of the Colombian military in 1903. The Colombians were going to march on Panamá City and thus try to squash Panamá’s fight for independence.

Finally, there is a breather of 2 days between holidays. Next in line is Mother’s Day on November 8. This date overlays the celebration of the Immaculate Conception, a major Roman Catholic holiday in religious Panamá. This day is intended to raise up all women, not just mothers. It is not just a religious holiday but a national holiday when all government offices, banks, and other institutions are closed.

November 10 is celebrated as Los Santos Uprising Day. This observes the day when the people of the province of Los Santos revolted against Spain, resulting in the first attempt to separate Panamá from Spain’s control. Although this was not accepted by all Panamanians, it took only 18 more days before an official Independence Act of Separation was declared. This leads to the final November holiday on the 28th officially celebrating Panamá’s independence from Spain. The year 2021 was the 200th Anniversary or Bicentennial Celebration of Panamá becoming a country in its own right. This was a massive celebration throughout the country last year. The town of Boquete built a monument at the head of two streets to commemorate the bicentennial.

There’s no doubt that Panamanians like to celebrate, but these holidays are observed very seriously. Most businesses and offices are closed. People travel to other towns to celebrate, making traffic very heavy and causing roads to be closed or traffic diverted. Historically, it’s a coincidence that these holidays occur in the same month, but it results in a very festive 30 days.

Author: Warren R. Johnson

I am a US citizen travelling in Europe. I have retired from two long-lasting careers: an ordained minister with an exclusive ministry in sacred music (organist-choirmaster), and a book dealer (2 stores and Internet selling). Another shorter career was as a data manager in medical research. Today, I am pursuing a writing career.

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