How customs and traditions are typically observed in Panama
Panama LOVES to party. Their many national and public holidays offer an excellent opportunity to take time off work and party… hardy! Loud music until the wee hours of the morning usually go along with Panama holidays. When you live in Panama, you need to learn to plan your life around Panama’s holidays.
Dia Feriado is the Spanish phrase for holiday. Due to its diversity, Panama celebrates an interesting mix of cultural and religious holidays. Some provinces have their own unique celebrations, too, so be sure to check into those if you’re interested.
Panama may observe holidays a little differently from your home country. Here’s an overview of some of the customs:
- When national holidays fall on a weekend, workers will have the following Monday off with pay. November is the heaviest month for holidays and businesses may want to plan accordingly by scheduling less work and more vacations during this time. If there is one “work day” between a holiday and a weekend, many employees will take that day off (whether scheduled or not!).
- Banks, government offices, schools and some businesses are closed. ATM machines often run out of funds, so plan ahead if you’ll require cash.
- The sale of alcohol is forbidden on some holidays from noon the day before until noon the day after. Drinking in public is illegal (although you may see it happening!) and may potentially result in a fine or arrest. DUI laws also apply.
- Carnival, a huge “street festival” which is the local version of Brazil’s Mardi Gras, is the largest celebration in Panama and attracts thousands of participants in various cities throughout Panama. With so many people out celebrating, street crime could be a concern, so staying vigilant if you join in the festivities. Water is often sprayed in public, so be prepared to get wet! Remember also that there can be heavy traffic during holidays and plan accordingly.
- In addition to the National holidays, local cities In Panama could have parades to celebrate their anniversary or other special occasions.
- If your Social Security check or pension check is being sent to a Panama bank, you need to know that it will be delayed if delivery occurs during a Panama holiday.
Interestingly, during many National holidays, a lot of people leave Panama City to celebrate the holiday at the beach or the mountains of Panama. I’ve been in Panama City during some National holidays and the City seemed like a ghost town. Traffic getting out of Panama City is horrible just before a National Holiday and just as bad coming back in to Panama City towards the end of the holiday.
Here is a list of Panama’s national and public holidays for 2018.
|Weekday||Date||Holiday name||Holiday type|
|Wednesday||Jan 1||New Year’s Day||National holiday|
|Day off for Martyr´s Day
|Monday||Feb 12||Carnival||National holiday|
|Tuesday||Feb 13||Carnival/Shrove Tuesday||National holiday|
|Wednesday||Feb 14||Carnival/Ash Wednesday||National holiday|
|Thursday||Mar 29||Maundy Thursday (½ day)||Christian, Common Local holiday|
|Friday||Mar 30||Good Friday||National holiday, Christian|
|Saturday||Mar 31||Holy Saturday||Observance, Christian|
|Sunday||Apr 1||Easter Day||Observance, Christian|
|Tuesday||May 1||Labor Day / May Day||National holiday|
|Wednesday||Aug 15||Foundation of Old Panama City||Common Local holiday|
|Saturday||Nov 3||Independence Day||National holiday|
|Sunday||Nov 4||Flag Day||Common Local holiday|
|Monday||Nov 5||Colon Day||National holiday|
|Saturday||Nov 10||Shout in Villa de los Santos||National holiday|
|Wednesday||Nov 28||Independence from Spain||National holiday|
|Sunday||Dec 8||Mother’s Day||National holiday|
|Monday||Dec 24||Christmas Eve (½ day)||Common Local holiday|
|Tuesday||Dec 25||Christmas Day||National holiday, Christian|
|Monday||Dec 31||New Year’s Eve ( ½ day)||Common Local holiday|