Panama Christmas traditions contain a curious mixture of Spanish and American traditions due to the Americans building the Panama canal. Panama is a very small country; just smaller than the state of Indiana and they have a population of about 3 million people. About one fourth of the county’s populations lives in Panama City, because of this, Panama city is the center of the country’s Christmas celebration.

On the second weekend in December the festivities begin. The Panama City Christmas parade is one of the most exciting Panama Christmas traditions. The poor children from around the city are gathered together and brought to the center of the festivities, so they, too, can enjoy them. The floats are decorated in the national styles and the women dress in their country’s party dresses, polleras. The men’s costumes are called monunos. Here are some beautiful pictures from one of their parades.

At the Panama City beach, they ceremonially light a giant Christmas tree and sing Navidad villanciaos, Christmas carols. The local churches come together to serve hot cocoa and Christmas cookies. The day is topped off with a fireworks display and, later that night, a Christmas boat parade, at the Panama City beach. The light show on these boats is spectacular.

Panama Christmas Traditions

Smaller neighborhoods love to hold the Spanish Las Posada on the nine days before Christmas. They dress as Mary and Joseph. To mimic the search for a place in the inn, they parade from house to house. At the final house where they are received, they sing, hit piƱatas and enjoy food.

Nacimientos, Nativities are set up in many homes. the Christmas tree may or may not be present.In the Panama Canal zone, which is Americanized, there are extravagant outdoor displays with Christmas lights and nativity scenes.

On Christmas Eve at midnight, the Panamanians don’t ring the Christmas bells to announce the coming of the Lord Jesus, but instead shoot off fabulous fireworks. No one misses the beginning of Christmas in Panama.

They have a night time feast and there is much dancing and celebrating in the streets of Panama. At the feast you can expect to dine on Chicken tamales, Arroz con Pollo chicken and rice, Perhaps, pavo turkey and relleno, stuffing. Beautiful bowls of fruit and fruitcake are the traditional desserts. A form of spiked eggnog called Ron Ponche is often served.

Panama also celebrates the Epiphany,Dia de los Reyes. This is the day children will receive small gifts.

Christmas lights divider

Panama Christmas Traditions Recipe:
Ron Ponche

2 cans of condensed milk
3 cans of evaporated milk
6 eggs
1/2 bottle of Rum
nutmeg to taste
Combine the milks in a large container;
beat the eggs in a separate bowl
stir them into the milk mixture,
Slowly add the rum.
Add nutmeg to taste.
Must be refrigerated until ready to drink.

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