Fiestas Patrias – National Holidays

November is a month of celebration in Panama. During the “Fiestas Patrias” the country honours and commemorates its history and important milestones towards independence.

November 3: Separation from Colombia. Separation Day marks Panama’s independence from Columbia in 1903, ending an 82 year association in which Panama saw mistreatment and isolation at the hands of the Columbian government.

November 4: Flag Day, or “Dia de la Bandera.” On this day in 1903 the newly independent Panamanian people unveiled a new flag, and a new era immediately began for this great country. Three designs were originally made and though only one was ultimately chosen as Panama’s flag, all were flown on that first Flag Day, a proud day for Panama. Panama City is also host to a very important official parade on Flag Day where many government entities are represented and honored. With live music and full dress uniforms, on a busy street through the city, it’s a must see!

November 5:  Colon Day, or “Dia de Colon.” This day celebrates the liberation of the city and port of Colon, on the north shore of Panama’s Caribbean coast. Despite declaring independence from Colombia just a few days earlier, one Colombian battalion holed up in Colon. This day celebrates the final battle, and official end to the Colombian-controlled era.

November 10: The First Cry for Independence, or “El Primer Grito de Independencia de la Villa de los Santos” is not just a really long name; it is also a very important day in Panama! November 10, 1821, marks the day a letter was written to Simon Bolivar from the people in the village of Los Santos, a small town in central Panama. The letter was a cry for independence from Spain, and set the wheels in motion for ultimate independence.

November 28: Independence from Spain Day, or “Independencia de España.” After the uprising in Los Santos, the movement spread quickly throughout the country, eventually hitting the capital. With most of the colonial military turning on Spain, and a short battle, the Spaniards left, beginning Panama’s 1st period of post-colonialism and independence on November 28, 1821.

These are all government holidays, so for travellers it is good to plan ahead during the month of November anticipating different business hours than usual. Government offices are closed, schools as well, in addition to limited public services such as buses, and of course many business and tourism agencies will be closing their offices as well during those holidays.

There are so many chances to immerse in this rich culture, get to know its people better and explore the authentic Panama, so November can be a rich and unique experience for travellers. Each day offers its own intention, its reason to be celebrated, and the Panamanian people rise to each holiday with colorful decorations, traditional dress, parades, fairs, dancing, food and celebration. Many Panamanians celebrate the holidays with their families in the countryside and escape the city to relax and celebrate on the beaches or in the highlands.

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