Bring in the New Year Panama style

Bringing in the New Year in Panama? Then eat, drink and join the fiesta...because Panamanians love a good party! The start to a traditional Panamanian celebration in certainly in the kitchen.

Where does the party take place... once the cooking is complete? Usually at the beach! Coronado Panama and surrounding beach communities are the top destinations for bringing in the New Year in Panama. You will find that grocery stores are packed, and the roads are a mess during this time of year in general with New Years being one of the busiest days of the year in the Panama West, specifically the Pacific beach area. 

New Year’s Food in Panama

While it is true you might find turkey and ham around this season, on New Year’s you will likely be served up Panamanian staples like rice, chicken, bollos and tamales. When food is served its tradition in Panama to say buen provecho, like the French.... bon appetite.

Holiday Drinks in Panama

Panama has it’s own style of eggnog locally known as Ron ponche and of course, cervecas bien frias (very cold beers) are always a hit. If you’re looking to try a local beer the major players are Atlas, Panama, Balboa, and Soberana. Panama also is home to a couple of really great microbreweries, Rana Dorado and Casa Bruja, so if you see one of their beers at the supermarket, and are looking to try something local...their worth trying! Another local liquor is Seco, it’s made from sugar cane, and it’s not for the faint of heart! Thinking of toasting this holiday season? Try saying Salud! Which means health in Spanish and is the traditional way to say cheers here. 

P.S. The 2019 Holiday Season in Panama lasts until March this year...

Like we mentioned above Panama love a good party. And while most North American’s have only been on the party tip since the 25th of December, celebrations started here way back in November, and they won’t slow down until March! November is a month full of parties, as it’s Panama’s month of Independence celebrations, starting with Flag Day on November 4, finishing with Independence Day on November 28. it’s a nice lead into the month of December which brings the party out to the beach for Christmas and New Years. New Year celebrations carry on through January 6, or Three Kings’ Day, which is a traditional celebration in Panama, as well as Mexico, Spain, Peru, and Puerto Rico. It is customary for kids to receive yet another present on this day, a gift from the Three Wise Men. This year the party won’t stop until March... when the country gears up for Carnival! 

New Year’s Traditions in Panama

So how do Panamanians bring in the New Year? There are a bunch of superstitious rituals that have been passed down from generations that Panamanians, among other Latin American cultures, continue to uphold. 
Holding money to ensure wealth in the new year, wear yellow underwear for happiness and wheeling around suitcase to bring travel into their future. Another big tradition is eating 12 grapes at midnight. With each bite, a wish is made. If you’re thinking about trying this one out, be sure not to toss the seeds! Count them!  The total number of seeds is your lucky number for the coming year.

If you’re celebrating New Years at the Beach you’re in luck! Chame is actually home to one of the most unique New Year’s traditions in Panama. You made have seen this tradition already, its called the “Muñeco de año Viejo” or the doll of the old year in English.

These life-size dolls can be seen on the side of the road from Chame to about San Carlos. It’s a tradition that families in the region of Panama West have upheld for generations. The long-standing tradition includes the creation, but also the burning of the dolls which represents leaving behind the negative feels and bringing only the good one into the future! Read more about this tradition here:  Judas dolls - a Pacific Coast Tradition 

If you’re in Panama, or somewhere else in the world this New Year’s we hope you celebrate it Panamanian style... with as much gusto, love, and happiness as humanly possible. Wishing all our readers, a very happy and healthy new year ahead.