We’re coming up on what I like to refer to as “The Month of Getting Nothing Accomplished”. November is the month when all the celebrations of Independence Days take place and the country pretty much shuts down.
The first holiday of the month however; is a little different. November 2 is Dia de los Muertos in Panama. This is the day that Panameños pay their respects to their ancestors. They tidy up the tumbas or graves of their family, decorating and offering food and flowers.
Artificial flowers are already being stocked in the local mini supers around the burg. When I was talking about it with mi maestra yesterday I commented that the graveyard in the pueblo didn’t seem to get a cleaning during the holiday last year. Apparently around here most of the families with relatives there don’t actually live here and so the tumbas don’t get much care and attention. The municipality looks after the grass cutting to keep it neat and tidy but otherwise the graves are left to deteriorate except for those few that still have kin in the area. We discussed the graveyard in Las Tablas which is apparently quite large and fancy. There will be much decorating and cleaning taking place there.
Most Latin Countries celebrate Day of the Dead and Mexico celebrates quite vigorously with parades and parties and can last a week in some places. In Panama the celebration is much more subdued. It is a “dry day” and under the law tiendas and restaurantes are not permitted to sell alcohol from midnight on November 1 to one second after midnight on November 2. Most people will make sure that there is enough cerveza to last through the day. The music also gets turned down it’s pretty silent around town until that one minute after midnight when the fireworks begin, the music gets turned on and the cerveza starts flowing. Panama’s official independence festivities begin the following day kicking off the Month of Independence. This is what it looks like:
- Sunday, November 3 – Independence Day from Colombia (Stat holiday, Monday, November 4 because it falls on a Sunday);
- Tuesday, November 5 – Colon Day;
- Sunday, November 10 – The Uprising of Los Santos (Stat holiday, Monday, November 11 because it falls on a Sunday);
- Thursday, November 28 – Independence Day from Spain (Stat holiday, Monday, December 2 because people won’t show up for work on Friday anyway if it’s celebrated on Thursday); and
- Sunday, December 8 – Mother’s Day (Stat holiday, Monday, December) Yes, Mother’s Day is a statutory holiday here not just a Hallmark day.
Shortly after all these holidays the children will be out of school for their Summer break and Christmas will follow. During all these festivities there will be many parades with marching bands and floats. Making the campo one festive place to be…as long as you just want to sit back and take in the revelry.