Panama follows Latin American countries’ tradition and observes two significant dates to commemorate their independence: one falls during September while a separate event takes place during November.
Cinco de Mayo marks an anniversary of a battle victory, while September 16 is Mexican Independence Day and commemorates priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla’s call for independence, known as Grito de Dolores.
1. It’s a National Holiday
November is full of national holidays for Panamanians to travel and spend quality time with family. At El Mes de la Patria (National Day), parades, speeches and cultural events celebrate each region in Panama – locals wear traditional clothes while Dianas (Marching bands) demonstrate years of practice playing various styles and rhythms.
First is Martyr’s Day on January 15th which honors those who died fighting against Colombia for independence. On November 3rd is Separation Day to mark when Panama broke free with U.S. support from Columbia in 1903.
Flag Day takes place annually on November 4th to commemorate the design of Panamanian’s current flag, followed by Colon Day on November 5th and Los Santos Uprising Day on November 10th – these three dates are observed with public agencies and schools taking a holiday off, many private businesses close, or employees take time off work as vacation days to enjoy this long weekend.
2. It’s a Time to Celebrate
Fiestas Patrias (or Dieciocho), also known as National Day or Independence Day is an exceptionally joyous holiday, serving as both Christmas, your birthday, and celebration of national pride all in one massive party!
Celebrations typically commence on September 15, when senior government officials reenact Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla’s Call to Independence issued by Miguel Hidalgo de Dolores, a Catholic priest who incited people against Spain. Official public holidays for September are observed between 18-19th of September; so Chileans generally take these days off work (unless working service industries which cannot shut down).
At home and restaurants alike, Dieciocho parties take place, but to fully experience its spirit it is best experienced at a fonda – an official venue where people can dance, eat, drink and play games in an energetic and festive environment filled with Chilean music and songs accompanied by traditional clothing such as jacket and skirt combinations or ponchos with embroidery flowers adorned on them. Empanadas de pino or anticucho with chicha or pisco is usually served during these parties.
3. It’s a Time to Eat
Fiestas Patrias, or “Dieciocho”, is an opportunity for Chileans to indulge in all things traditional – from empanadas and humitas, Choripan grilled sausages and Pebre – the national condiment made with tomato, onion, olive oil cilantro and spicy Aji peppers; to traditional Chilean beverages like pisco sours – to name but a few! All will find their place on tables across Chile during Fiestas Patrias.
Empanadas are a year-round favorite in Chile, but during dieciocho they’re particularly plentiful! Baked or fried, empanadas come in all sorts of delicious varieties – one such specialty being an empanada de pino which includes meat with sauteed onions, half of a hard boiled egg and an olive.
At these celebrations you’ll also find Chilean churros covered in dulce de leche, a traditional dessert available from donuts to pastries. No meal would be complete without enjoying a glass of Pisco; its popularity among Chileans being such that many consider it the spirit equivalent to either rum or vodka but with its own distinct taste that sets it apart.
4. It’s a Time to Party
Chileans love celebrating patriotic pride through outdoor parties and parade marches, offering visitors a wonderful opportunity to sample some of Chile’s delectable cuisine – be sure to look for anticuchos (large meat skewers) and empanadas de pino (doughy pastries stuffed with beef, sauteed onion, raisins, olives and hard-boiled eggs) along with other delights like choripan (Chilean sausage) as well as Pebre sauce made up of tomato onion cilantro chili peppers etc… for an unforgettable dining experience!
Alongside all of the delicious food, there is also music and dancing. One of the most beloved dances is cueca, in which two partners circle each other twirling handkerchiefs around and tapping their feet rhythmically in unison. Rodeo events also take place where teams of huaso riders race around an arena trying to catch a calf and pin it against cushions.
5. It’s a Time to Take a Break
Chile celebrates Dieciocho on September 18th each year to bring its vibrant traditions alive! Festivities on this day include parades, traditional food and drinks, musical performances and dancing events!
Chileans love a good celebration, but during Fiestas Patrias it becomes especially significant. Businesses and schools close for this week so employees can spend quality time with family and friends.
Experience Chilean cuisine during this trip by dining on anticucho, which consists of marinated pork or chicken cooked on a stick served with onions and peppers; empanadas de pino — doughy pastries filled with chopped beef, onions, raisins, one olive, one hard-boiled egg — empanadas de pino as well as alfajores — breaded cookies attached together using manjar (Chilean version of caramel), as well as pairing these delicious bites with chicha (an alcoholic drink made from fermented apple or grape juice).