November 3, 2020
Today is the first of 5 Independence-related holidays in November.
These celebrations are collectively known as Fiestas Patrias.
Today, November 3rd is called Separation Day.
It is the day, in 1903, that Panama gained independence from Columbia.
Normally, there are parades. People tend to spend the day at the beach BBQing, drinking, and having fun.
But in this time of Covid, there will be no parades. And although people are now allowed to gather at the beach, it is unlikely there will be much in the way of gatherings. However, this may have been true even without Covid, the rainy season right now is especially rainy. Panama must be breaking all sorts of rainfall records this season.
Also, Separation Day is a dry day. No alcohol is served or sold. You can drink ’em if you have ’em though.
Throughout the month, you will still see schools, cars, and shops decked out with the Panamanian flag as usual.
Quieter Celebrations With No Parades
One thing you will notice for all of the November holiday celebrations in Panama: It will be significantly quieter. Just in the runup to November it was quieter.
Normally, during September and October, you often hear school children practicing the xylophone (girls only) and snare drums (boys only) in preparation for the many parades that occur during November. However, the coronavirus put an end to parades in Panama.
The needed no parades rule has had a ripple effect. No need for school kids to practice their instruments as well as no gearing up by vendors to sell their wares at the parades to the people at the many associated gatherings related to the holidays.
I am sure some children are very disappointed about not being able to participate in parades. Selfishly, I am okay living without the sometimes maddening sounds of xylophones and drums for a few months. Unfortunately, the lack of parades also means that the coronavirus continues to have a dampening effect on the Panama economy.
More November Independence-Related Celebrations
Below is the list of the other Independence-related holidays in Panama that will also be quieter and lacking in parades.
November 4 – Flag Day. The day after the announcement of the separation from Columbia, Maria de la Ossa de Amador secretly started to design the Panamanian Flag. Her design became the official flag of Panama in 1925.
Normally, on Flag Day there are numerous parades with many displays of national pride throughout Panama. But again, not this year, due to the coronavirus.
November 5 – Colon Day. This is to celebrate the independence fight from Columbia that occurred without a shot being fired. The US had something to do with it. Read about Panama’s independence from Columbia here, to learn more.
November 10 – The Uprising of Los Santos. This holiday commemorates Panama’s 1821 struggle to gain independence from Spain. The day is typically celebrated with colorful parades, traditional folk music, and dancing. Hopefully, all those forms of celebration will return next year.
November 28 – Independence Day from Spain. Officials in Panama City declared independence from Spain in 1821 but fearing retaliation, joined Gran Columbia, which is now present-day Columbia, Panama, Venezuela, and Ecuador. (NOTE: Unfortunately, for years Gran Columbia ignored the needs of its newest addition, Panama. There was an uprising, which failed. Then the US helped out, and Panama was quickly independent without a shot being fired.)
I read a recent interview with Marixa Lasso, a Panamanian historian and researcher, who wrote the award-winning book, Erased: The Untold Story of The Panama Canal. In the interview, Marixa Lasso was asked, “Which was more liberating: Panama’s independence from Spain or its separation from Colombia?
Her reply (below) made me more fully realize the importance of Panama’s independence from Spain.
“I’ll change your question to this: Which of these movements changed the lives of Panamanians the most?
In that case, without a doubt, the answer is independence from Spain, because at that moment our whole way of understanding politics and social relations was changed. We went from being governed by a king to being governed by ‘the sovereign people’ through their representatives and a Constitution. We went from being a society with nobles and commoners, which had countless different laws and privileges for each social group, to one that aspired to a world in which all men were equal before the law. That was a huge change because it marked the beginning of the end of slavery. Or that illegitimate children had the same political rights as illegitimate children, and thus countless categories that divided society into different classes were eliminated. “
To get more detailed information about Panama’s Holidays, go to my post on Panama’s November holidays.
Most of the celebrations, especially parades, will not be happening in 2020, the year of the coronavirus.
However, government offices will still close and traffic and traffic flow restrictions in and out of Panama City will still be in effect. So keep that in mind.