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Panama National and Public Holidays

How customs and traditions are typically observed in Panama

Carnaval in PanamaPanama 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.
  • During some holidays, you will see and hear a LOT of fireworks.  Make sure to keep your pets inside during holidays because the noise will scare them.
  • In addition to the National holidays, local cities In Panama could have parades to celebrate their anniversary or other special occasions.

Panama holidayInterestingly, during many National holidays, a lot of people leave Panama City to celebrate the holiday at the beach or the mountains of Panama.  I read during last week’s Carnival celebration that 120,000 cars left Panama City.  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

Date Weekday Holiday Name Holiday Type
1 Jan Tuesday New Year’s Day National holiday
9 Jan Wednesday Martyr´s Day National holiday
2 Mar Saturday Carnival Observance
3 Mar Sunday Carnival Observance
4 Mar Monday Carnival Common local holiday
5 Mar Tuesday Carnival/Shrove Tuesday National holiday
6 Mar Wednesday Carnival/Ash Wednesday Common local holiday
20 Mar Wednesday March Equinox Season
18 Apr Thursday Maundy Thursday Bank holiday
19 Apr Friday Good Friday National holiday, Christian
20 Apr Saturday Holy Saturday Bank holiday
21 Apr Sunday Easter Day Observance, Christian
1 May Wednesday Labor Day / May Day National holiday
21 Jun Friday June Solstice Season
15 Aug Thursday Foundation of Old Panama City Common local holiday
23 Sep Monday September Equinox Season
3 Nov Sunday Independence Day National holiday
4 Nov Monday Flag Day Common local holiday
5 Nov Tuesday Colon Day National holiday
10 Nov Sunday Shout in Villa de los Santos National holiday
25 Nov Monday Day off for Independence from Spain National holiday
28 Nov Thursday Independence from Spain National holiday
8 Dec Sunday Mother’s Day National holiday
21 Dec Saturday December Solstice Season
24 Dec Tuesday Christmas Eve Bank holiday
25 Dec Wednesday Christmas Day National holiday, Christian
31 Dec Tuesday New Year’s Eve Bank holiday

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Jackie Lange

Jackie Lange is the founder of Panama Relocation Tours and lives in the highlands of Boquete Panama. She has helped thousands of people relocate to Panama.

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