Activities were in abundance throughout the country last week to celebrate turning points and milestones in Panamanian history. Children, marching bands, beauty queens, and many more gathered in the wee hours of each morning to line up and proceed down the main boulevards of their local towns in grand style. Businesses closed while thousands lined the streets to gaze upon the day’s procession. Red, white, and blue Panamanian flags of all sizes waved in onlookers hands, adorned buildings, and decorated local parks and monuments.
The festivities are filled with history and folklore. Creatively handmade costumes and masks dot the parade throughout each town. Men wear elaborate paper-mache tooth filled devil masks as a religious representation of the devil fighting for possession of the human soul. Differing representations proliferate in varying regions of Panama, from the diablo sucio of the southern provinces, dressed in red and black stripes, to the diablo limpio dressed in white with satin handkerchiefs and bells.
Women wear extravagantly decorated polleras, the national Panamanian dress. Headdresses are equally elaborate and painstakingly made by hand. The origins are believed to be Spanish heritage and are strikingly beautiful. As you travel throughout Latin America, you will see reminiscent versions in each country.
Panama celebrates separating from Colombia in 1903, adopting their national flag in 1925, and Colon Day during this period. Throughout the rest of the month, more celebrations arise from the independence from Spain gained in 1821. November is a patriotic month in Panama. You will find all the locals very proud of their young independent country when visiting. Panama is quickly rising to the top of the charts of Latin American countries, providing government stability, one of the fastest growing economies, and quickly becoming one of the largest banking hubs for thousands of corporations across the globe. No wonder why so many expats now call Panama home.