Panamanians celebrate Christmas in Panama with many traditions. Prior to Christmas Eve or Kings Day (Dia de los Reyes), families paint their houses to welcome Jesus on that special evening. This tradition, also known as King Day in Panamanian Spanish, symbolizes the anticipation and joy that come with Christmas in Panama.
Attractions continue through December with Mother’s Day on December 8 and five national Fiesta Patrias holidays.
Enjoy the Weather
Panama provides the ideal escape from cold North American winters with its tropical weather and beautiful beaches, making this Christmas trip to Panama an unforgettable experience. Discover all this magnificent country has to offer when spending Christmas here!
Panama celebrates Mother’s Day (December 8th) and Christmas in much the same manner as Latin America as a whole, gathering families together for celebrations and feasts with loved ones from near and far – including distant relatives who cannot travel home for celebrations and feasts.
Family members come together and prepare a traditional Christmas meal of turkey or ham with rice, guandu (pigeon peas), vegetables, fruits and salads for Christmas Day dinner. Rosca de huevo (ring shaped egg bread) is another must have and usually served alongside rum punch for an enjoyable festive drink.
Panamanians enjoy decorating their homes with lights and ornaments to mark this special time of year, and many families paint them to prepare them for Santa’s visit.
On Christmas Eve, Panamanians traditionally prepare tamales and rosca, both traditional Panamanian dishes that can be enjoyed year-round. Tamales are banana leaf packages filled with corn dough containing stewed meat, raisins, peppers, coriander and olives; as an homage to Panama’s Spanish colonial past. Rosca is a sweet braided bread eaten as part of the main course that’s decorated with almonds.
Go on a Beach Holiday
Panama offers the ideal tropical beach holiday at Christmas time. Swap snow shoveling for some sand and surf. Panama City Beach is a popular holiday destination offering exciting events like parades, festivals and tree lightings for an exciting holiday atmosphere.
Panamanians enjoy celebrating and saving up throughout the year for December holidays, starting early and decorating their houses. At the end of November and into December, families come together for traditional posada festivities which involve carrying statues of Mary through towns and cities as part of this beautiful tradition across Latin America.
Families also decorate a Christmas tree and fill it with ornaments and lights, eating traditional Christmas foods like ham or turkey, rice with guandu (pigeon peas) and tamales; fruitcake and pan de rosca (ring-shaped egg bread) are popular options too. As midnight approaches and fireworks begin their annual display overhead, family members come together to enjoy their meal and welcome in the new year together.
Experience Panamanian culture during the holiday season is also an incredible opportunity. Locals take great pride in decorating their festive decorations and traditions to welcome visitors. Plus, many are eager to show visitors around their beloved homeland!
Go on a Tour
Panama Christmas celebrations begin early as families prepare and decorate their homes for Christmas Day. Family and friends come together to spend quality time together and to take delight in each other’s company.
At Christmas time, locals typically take time off work to spend time with family and enjoy the festivities. Many businesses also slow down so people can fully experience this special time with their loved ones.
Panamanians enjoy an amalgam of cultures, which is evident in their Christmas traditions. Catholic families may display a Nativity scene while non-Catholic homes frequently decorate with an imported Christmas tree from Northern Europe.
Panamanians traditionally decorate their homes with ornaments, lights and other decorations to commemorate Epiphany or Three Kings Day on January 6th. Most homes remain decorated until then.
On Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day, it is customary to serve turkey or ham for dinner with rice, guandu (a nutritious green bean) and tamales topped off with plenty of melted butter and sweet desserts. Locals often forgo stuffing and gravy in favor of adding their own Panamanian flare, such as creating a unique zesty sauce based on finely chopped vegetables that covers their turkey before being served.
Experience the Culture
Panama’s diverse mix of cultures adds a distinctive flare to some of the holiday festivities you may be used to in the United States, such as Christmas carolers. Instead, Panamanians light spectacular fireworks every evening leading up to Christmas Day and beyond!
Panamanian holiday traditions include setting up large nativity scenes known as “pescebre”, or roadside displays of love and respect. While you might be used to seeing them on shelves in homes around you, these displays of affection make a statement of celebration in their own way.
Families gather together for a traditional Christmas feast of turkey or ham, rice with guandu (nutritious green bean), tamales and apples, pears and grapes accompanied by an apple juice rum punch punch for dessert rosca de huevo bread known as rosca de huevo bread and then visiting neighbors to wish each other Merry Christmas!
As is common across Latin American nations, Panamanians love their carnival and holiday parades – the lively celebrations are beloved by both locals and visitors. Easter (usually held around April), and the “Fiestas Patrias” events celebrating independence are widely commemorated events.