Snowmen… snow flakes… snow globes… icicles… does this sound like Panama to you? It didn’t to me either. Most people living in Panama have never witness naturally-occurring ice, let alone snow flurries! However, each Christmas all of these traditional things and more that you normally associate with Christmas are featured proudly and prominently all across Panama. Christmas in Panama is quite enjoyable when you’re seeking to beat the wintry cold in a tropical climate.
One of the most pleasant surprises about moving my family to Panama has been enjoying Christmas in Panama here in Chiriqui. Panamanians go all out in decorating their homes, stores, and restaurants for enjoying the Christmas holiday and making it special and festive for their communities. You will see their many displays of traditional Christmas lights, Christmas trees, and Nativity scenes, along with icicle lighting, snowmen, and of course, Santa Claus and Rudolf displays.
Panamanian big box stores such as Conway, Romero, PriceSmart, and Arrocha all have their Christmas items ready for sale by the time October comes around. Their selections are always impressive and on par with any of the big box stores that you would find in the U.S. The Arrocha department store always displays very large, well-lit Christmas decorations on the top of their store for the viewing pleasure of the adjacent five-lane highway in David, while many of the shopping centers display both secular and religious Christmas motifs prominently.
Lighting ceremonies are common in the many town squares for Christmas in Panama. Boquete was treated to a fireworks display this year when their Christmas decorations in the town square was first displayed on the first Friday night after Thanksgiving. The town square was enjoyed by the locals and the gringo community alike, as many of the young in love and the old in love strolled the square hand in hand, while they enjoyed the lights decorating the buildings and the trees, as well as the various Christmas displays on hand. The Walt Disney Company even came to the Christmas Parade in Panama City last year with floats full of all of your favorite Disney characters welcoming the season and was witnessed by almost 500,000 people.
Living in Panama: People Welcome Merry Christmas
A warm greeting of “Feliz Navidad” or “Merry Christmas” is completely acceptable here in Panama as the clear majority of people here acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Reason for the Season. Panama is a predominantly Catholic country, with the many various Protestant faiths welcomed by the local communities and warmly received thanks to their outreach and community service efforts which include many of the orphanages and food serving ministries located here. No matter your beliefs, it is clear that the Panamanian people see the deeper Christmas meaning beyond the lights and the festivities.
As for the gringo community living in Panama, most of us relocated here without extended families, and Christmas day in Panama has become an enjoyable day of presents, food and fellowship with new friends and families who hail from across the globe. It is amazing to experience a house full of friends where many cultures are represented. We’ve hosted people from Costa Rica, to Colombia, from Canada to the far eastern, western and central parts of the United States, from Spain and France to Australia, and of course Panama. We break bread with each other, and enjoy each other’s company. Our children play together. While we all miss our loved ones back home, we are comforted by the reality that people are people, and we all want the same things: to love, to prosper, to serve others, and for our children to embrace the traditions and values that our parents have instilled in us.
Enjoying Christmas in Panama with Family and Friends
Christmas is a time for remembrance, for festivities, for fellowship, and for making memories with our friends and families. All of those things are easily enjoyed in Panama and more… Pineapples! Pineapples in Panama are the most tasty you have ever had, they’re harvested year around, and you can buy them for $1 apiece. They’re my family’s new Christmas favorite! Plus, is there anything else that tastes as yummy when baked along with a ham?
For those of you considering a move abroad I encourage you to expand your horizons and consider living in Panama as a viable option. A thriving economy awaits you here, filled with a warm and welcoming people, and quality Panama real estate is plentiful. You can now book flights to Chiriqui using the airport code DAV in your favorite booking system. If you’re from North America, you can now usually leave home in the morning and be at your destination in western Panama for a late dinner.
If you have questions about traveling, visiting, or living in Panama, ask me through the contact form. You can also leave a comment! Merry Christmas! I look forward to seeing you soon!
Enjoyed this article? Please share to others!