Christmas Season in Panama – Boquete Style!

Blog by Andres Lay

 

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Christmas is coming up, and all the Boquetenians and Panamanians are getting ready for this special holiday. After a month full of holidays in November, where Boquetenians celebrated the Independence Day with all kinds of parades and music bands, people are warmed up for more. The celebrations in November took place on the 3rd, 4th, 10th and the 28th throughout the whole country. On December 8th Boquetenians also celebrate Mother’s day which is a special day for everyone to honor their mothers. People come together as a family and have a special day with their mother, by giving them gifts and to spend time with them. For most Panamanians Mom means a lot to us since she is the one that gave us the opportunity to live, she is the one that is always there for us when we need her, she is the princess of the house. In short, she is everything to us!

Panamanians start to prepare their houses, by painting them, putting up Christmas lights, decorating with Christmas trimmings and getting ready for Christmas with happiness that abounds in their hearts. Also, most people buy Canadian Christmas trees, that the supermarkets import from Canada, and decorate them with lights and Christmas decorations. The Central Park in Boquete is also decorated with beautiful lights and different decorations like a nativity where Child Jesus is placed at midnight on Christmas Eve. In Navidad (Christmas) people usually buy food and keep it frozen until they prepare it on Christmas Eve. The Panamanian traditional foods for Christmas include homemade Turkey, Ham, Arroz de Guando (rice with a national bean), Tamales, ensalada de papas (potato salad), fruit breads and more. In most neighborhoods people gather to celebrate Christmas. People get together with their family to eat Christmas Dinner. The tradition in Navidad is to have dinner at 12 midnight on Christmas Eve with your closest family members, listen to Christmas Carols while having a glass of wine and wait together until midnight. Some families go to church to pray with their loved ones and to wait until midnight to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Most young people expect to go dancing and clubbing after midnight. A lot of Children are kept awake until midnight to open their gifts, and some will wait until next day after Santa Claus has arrived. Kids get ideas for their list of toys with the help of their parents, by watching it on TV, or by looking at store catalogs of toys to choose from. They present this list to the Child Jesus way before Christmas day, just to be sure! Children wait anxiously for their toys. The presents are discreetly placed under the tree by “Santa Claus” when the kids are sleeping, typically not until after midnight.

There are places (including shopping centers) like Conway, Arrocha, or others where they put large trees and the kids have fun walking through there. Normally, a huge tree is placed in the Central Park (Cervantes Park) in David, like shown in the picture below.

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Christmas Day is a holiday in Panama so most of the stores, restaurants, and supermarkets are closed. It is a day for people to relax, be with their relatives and enjoy the joys of Christmas. In Boquete, on Christmas day, Boquetenians go out during the evening to watch the parade. The parade usually starts in the Basketball Arena in Los Naranjos close to Casa de Montaña, just up the street, and it is a parade where all schools participate. People are part of the parade with their decorated cars, motorcycles, golf carts, big trucks and more. The parade passes by on the main street right in front of Casa de Montaña (yes, we have the front row seat!), all the way down the street to downtown and usually ends up at Los Establos plaza. Even though most of the indigenous people do not celebrate Christmas, they will go out to watch the parade with their kids, especially since the mayor will be giving candies or gifts to them. In Boquete’s Central Park, the mayor always has a Christmas celebration for families in need, or indigenous people who do not have many resources. For the celebration, the mayor brings a Santa Claus who gives gifts to all the kids, give them hugs or just spend time with them. Christmas time in Boquete is truly a time to celebrate, be thankful for what we have and to show our appreciation of others in our life – a magical time! So if you are planning on coming to Boquete during Christmas time, book your room now at Casa de Montaña, and enjoy all the festivities that Boquete has to offer.

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