We are getting to know a little more of how Christmas works here in Panama so I thought I’d describe a little bit of the traditions, as I have heard of them and experienced them anyway.
Panamanians love a parade so pretty much every town has a Christmas parade. Sometimes they are santa-oriented and other times they are like a travelling manger scene. Last year our town borrowed a Joseph from another town, evidently. Last night’s parade in a nearby town was a little bit of both. A manger scene was created in the back of a police pickup truck and we saw him speeding around, lights flashing, an hour or two before the parade.
Here in Pedasi they usually have a parade and some government officials come and hand out gifts for the kids. This is the birthplace of the first female president of Panama (I think the only female president at this point) so they have this tradition and the kids look forward to it every year. For many of them this is the only gift they get.
This year the parade was scheduled for December 20 but some officials had a conflict and had to reschedule it for December 27, which was disappointing for many. We’ll see if there will still be gifts. We aren’t sure why the reschedule but perhaps because December 20 was the 25th anniversary of the US invasion of Panama. There were some fireworks here but that’s not too different than most days.
I have not experienced it yet but evidently in Panama the big day is Christmas Eve. That’s when they do their big dinner and family gatherings. Then at midnight there’s all kinds of fireworks and they wake up the kids and open gifts (if there are any) at that point.
We will stick with our traditional schedule and celebrate it on Christmas Day so perhaps Christmas Eve might be visiting some local friends. We have been invited to go across the street to join the neighbors.
Even in another country, some things never change: Daniel and I are headed to Chitre for some Christmas shopping for the girls today. I would say that my Christmas activities are about 25% of what they are in the USA. It’s kind of nice not to have the usual pressure about doing all those activities but just doing the ones that feel the most special and fun. It’s one of the many nice things about being on “pause”.