New Year’s Eve in Panama

We spent New Year’s Eve in our street, and it was quite the street party! We also learned a lot about Panamanian New Year’s traditions. There were the expected fireworks all over the neighborhood, and we continue to be surprised and honored by the hospitality of our neighbors. Everyone invited us to join them and shared a holiday drink or treat.

The highlight was the muñeco! It’s a scarecrow sort of thing, clothes stuffed to look like a person but it was also stuffed with a lot of fireworks! Late in the evening they tied it up to the stop sign at the end of the street. Then, at midnight they set it on fire to symbolize all the negative things from last year going up in flames.


I’ve done bit of research to find out more about some other things I’ve seen. We saw bunches of wheat or rice for sale downtown. They are hung behind the door for prosperity. The bread we saw for sale everywhere must be the rosca de huevo (egg bread) that is served at holiday dinners. We saw our neighbor bring out a bowl of grapes at midnight to eat 12 grapes and make 12 wishes. We certainly have seen all the cleaning and fixing up going on everywhere in the neighborhood all last month. We haven’t seen anyone walking around with a suitcase or some of the other traditions I read about, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t also going on.

Holiday Traditions – here’s a link about Panamanian holiday traditions
muñeco – this link is about the muñeco in Peru, but it seems to be the same thing.

Here’s a taste of the New Years celebrations on our street.

A related article that Zemanta brought up

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About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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8 Responses to New Year’s Eve in Panama

  1. joeltc1 says:

    What a wonderful night, new friends and a new year!


  2. It’s very interesting how different the customs are in other countries.


    • kristc99 says:

      It certainly is, and I’ve also loved reading about different variations of these customs from other bloggers in this part of the world. Happy New Year 🙂


  3. oldsalt1942 says:

    A final thought on Feliz Año Nuevo and Prospero Año Nuevo.

    I wrote to my friend Omar who hosts the wonderful blog:
    He’s a Panamanian and we should only aspire to being able to have a grasp of Spanish as he has with the English language. (Ain’t going to happen for me, I know)

    Anyway, I asked him about the two phrases and this is his response:
    Hola Richard:

    Primero que todo, Feliz Año Nuevo! Regarding your question about the difference between Feliz Año Nuevo and Próspero Año Nuevo, let me say there’s another one, Feliz Año. All three are one with subtle differences. The most common expression is to greet someone you see on the street, supermarket, move theater and so forth, with Feliz Año Nuevo or in short Feliz Año. People will say this about eighty percent of the time.

    Próspero Año Nuevo means exactly the same; only it is slight more formal. It is orally said, but it’s usually expressed in written form. If I meet on the street, I would say, Feliz Año Nuevo Richard, but if I would send you a Christmas card, I would write Próspero Año Nuevo. There are no rules on these year’s end expression. Say what comes from your heart and it will come out nice, friendly and warm. A smile will add to charm of the greeting.

    Hope this explanation has cleared your doubts,


    • kristc99 says:

      I’ve heard feliz año most of the time, and quite a bit of feliz año neuvo, and only once prospero año nuevo. That was a professional relationship so, this makes sense with what you said about it being more formal. The rest are friends, neighbors, people around town, etc.Now though everyone seems to be back to hola, buenas, buenas tardes, etc. As you said, the most important part is the friendly greeting (of any sort) which always seems to bring warm smiles and greetings in return.


  4. eof737 says:

    •.★♥★Happy New Year to You & Yours!★♥★.•


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