Christmas Traditions in Panama

It seems that the most Google searches that bring people to Chiriquí Chatter in December is related to Christmas Traditions in Panama. I don’t know if this is a typical teacher exercise for students living in a cold region to get the students to think about Christmas in a warmer part of the world or not, but I know some are students because of the (Interesting Comments which have to be deleted).

If you got here because of a school assignment, then have a look here.

I think it is a pretty good description of many Latin American countries Christmas traditions. The following is what the article says about Panama.

PANAMA: “Feliz Navidad” is the same Christmas greeting that is used in most Spanish speaking countries. Sometimes you will hear them say, “Felices Pascuas” though this is more suited as an Easter greeting.

The Holidays start for the Panamanian people on December 8th with the celebration of the Immaculate Conception. This is also Mother’s Day in Panama. Some of the little girls are dressed as Angels with wings attached to their dresses and there is a parade with the Statue of the Blessed Virgin being carried down the main street. The children also make their first communion on this day.

During the following weeks the ‘nacimientos’ are set up. Many have been in the families for years and were bought in Europe.

The first tree in Panama was brought to the Central Hotel from Europe by the Ehrman family. Not all families display Christmas trees.

The day of December 24th, is spent in food preparation and house cleaning. Some traditional Panamanian food is, pavo (turkey) and relleno (stuffing), arroz dulce and tamales (a cornmeal made into a paste with arturo sauce, meats, capers, prunes, and spices wrapped in plantain leaves and boiled). Fruitcake is a popular dessert item. The Panamanians listen to music as they await midnight to feast and visit family and friends. After eating, it is common for people to dance and celebrate in the streets.

On Christmas Day, December 25th, most worship at their church in the morning. The rest of the day is spent visiting far-away family and friends and eating the same holiday foods.
Although Christmas is celebrated on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the other big holiday in Panama is Epiphany – or Dia de los Reyes (Kings Day), when the children get presents.
Christmas music is often traditional and includes songs called “gaitas” or “villancicos”. Lots of singing, eating, drinking and fun surrounds Christmas in Panama. The American influence with the building of the Canal Zone changed the holidays into a mixture of Panamanian and American traditions. In the Canal Zone the decorating of the exterior of houses with many lights and decorations made the season “brighter

Sorry I was so late in posting this, but maybe those searching to complete a Christmas assignment next year will not be so unhappy with what they found here. One thing the above didn’t mention is fireworks. At midnight on the 24th, there will many fireworks going off everywhere. In fact, some have been going off all week. I expect more to continue and the grand finale will be new years at midnight when Panama City will have it skyline covered with fireworks.

Today is the day before Christmas and I hope you are all with your family and have a wonderful Christmas and remember it is a time to share good memories and not just for exchanging gifts.

104 thoughts on “Christmas Traditions in Panama



  2. Hi Don:

    You can say that again about firecrackers on Christmas Eve. I’m prepared to hide under the bed when the skies explode tonight at midnight.

    Merry Xmas Don!

    Best Regards,


  3. Thank you so much for this information. I had to do a report over christmas vacation about spanish speaking countries and this website helped so much. Thank you

  4. Hey Don Thank you so much. I have to do a report on 3 spanish speaking countries and how they celebrate christmas and every other site i went to hardly had any info and this really helped! Thanx 😀

  5. Oh, man! Thank you!!
    There is so little info on the other sites, and I have a presentaion due soon. You have no idea how much this helps 😀

  6. Hey, thanks a lot! I was worried that I would have to search for hours on this (some spanish project information has been harder to come by.) So thanks!

  7. We have been spending the holidays in Panama for the last few years. We have found that PC is quite and the beachs are full of families gathering together. What is David like? We have also enjoyed the town parade in Puerto Armulles.

    We are still looking for a home to rent near David.

  8. Hi,
    My husband’s family is from Mexico and Honduras and my daughter has to do a report on xmas in a latin country, but we decided to go with Panama because every kid in her class is from Mex and Hond – we wanted to go with something different. I chose Panama because that is where my sister in law is from. She told me alot of the same things you have listed here, but she also mentioned that there are some African and Jamaican dishes that people eat that natives brought with them when they came to Panama to build the canal.
    Can you elaborate more on these dishes, or are they not really that signifigant to the xmas celebration?

    She also mentioned that in Panama the baby Jesus is placed in the manger on xmas day, where typically in the US he is in the manger for the entire season.
    Thanks, Annie

  9. Hi Annie,

    I haven’t seen either the African and Jamaican dishes. I just checked and was told that you are correct on the baby Jesus being put in the manger on the 25th. Thanks for adding that information.

  10. This is a somewhat decent source, but I have to write a 2 page report so I’m gonna need some more info. Gracias, mas no eso es su trabajo. Hace su propio trabajo en la futura. HASTA LA VISTA!

  11. i too had a report to write for my spanish 3 class, though with it i had to look up plane tickets, currency, cost of living, passports and such as if i were spending a semester in panama city. we also had to write about how we celebrated christmas in the country of choice. this helped alot. thank you.

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