Christmas Traditions in Panama
“Feliz Navidad” is the same Christmas greeting that is used in most Spanish speaking countries. Sometimes, this is interchanged with “Felices Pascuas”, which is actually not correct….Pascuas is used more for Easter.
The traditional Christmas meal includes the following items: Arroz con Pollo, chicken with rice, made with saffron, vegetables, small onions, lots of chicken and sometimes using capers. It’s like paella in someways.
Tamales, Panamanian style tamales are made with corn meal filled with chicken, in the interior of the country they leave the chicken in big pieces, so you might get a chicken leg in your tamale!, and a sauce made of onions, garlic and other goodies. This is put into the middle of the corn meal and all of it is wrapped in a special leaf, like a banana leaf, but from a different plant. The whole thing is then boiled. Families often have tamale making parties around Christmas time. There is also a traditional drink called “Ron Ponche” or rum punch. It’s similar to eggnog.
Although Christmas is celebrated on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the other big holiday in Panama is Epiphany or Dia de los Reyes, Kings Day, when children get presents. Christmas music is often traditional and includes songs called “gaitas” or “villancicos”. Lots of singing, eating, drinking and fun surrounds Christmas in Panama.