The Historical Origin and Celebrations of Panama’s Independence Day
The Independence Day of Panama has a complex history that led to this country having two major national days, November 3rd and 28th, and a month full of celebrations and Panamanian pride.
Aside from their struggles to have their own self-governed country, Panama was a key factor in worldwide trade and commerce. Their motto “Pro Mundi Beneficio” (For the benefit of the world), accurately describes the international relevance of their trademark, the Panama Canal.
Join me in this blog post as I explore the compelling history and celebrations of the Independence Day of Panama.
History of the Independence Day of Panama
As part of Latin America, Panama has a history of Spanish conquest and eventual liberation from it.
Aside from three more commemorations during November, they also celebrate two versions of the Independence Day of Panama.
Let’s find out why!
Liberation From Spain
Spain governed Panama for over 300 years through the Viceroyalty of Peru under the name of Panama la Vieja.
It was the first Spanish settlement on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. A location as convenient as this was essential for trade and commerce around the world—the Spaniards’ main interest.
The native indigenous people knew they no longer wanted to be a Spanish colony, but it wasn’t until Venezuelan figures like Francisco de Miranda and later Simon Bolivar sparked the struggling spirit that they sought to unite Latin America against Spain by promoting the fight in other colonies.
On November 10th in 1821, the inhabitants of Villa de Los Santos bravely led the first cry for independence.
After all those efforts, they declared themselves free of Spain on November 28th of the same year. Nonetheless, they still feared the repercussions Spain would force upon them.
Panamanians consider November 28th to be the Independence Day of Panama from Spain.
Dreading Spanish attacks, they saw themselves in need of seeking protection and support from fellow former colonies. They became a part of the Republic of Greater Colombia (Gran Colombia.)
Don Manuel José Hurtado, the Father of Panamanian education, was responsible for writing the Independence act.
Independence Day of Panama, Republic of Panama
For some years, Panama was part of Gran Colombia, which also included parts of Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guayana, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela.
So, why did Panama break off all bonds with its neighbors?
The United States was deeply interested in building the now-known Panama Canal, but since Colombia did not agree with the treaty, the U.S. knew they needed to separate Panama from Greater Colombia.
On November 3rd of 1903, Panama cut ties with Greater Colombia and allowed the U.S to build the canal. However, this meant they had complete control of it.
November 3rd, Separation Day, is another motive for celebration during this historical month in Panama and the one most Panamanians officially call the Independence Day of Panama.
In December of 1999, President Jimmy Carter handed all control of the canal to the government of Panama. Phillipe Dunau-Varilla wrote the most recent Declaration of Independence of the new Republic of Panama.
Month of the Motherland (El mes de la patria)
As fate would have it, the most memorable moments in Panama’s history happened in November, making it a whole month of celebrations and days off!
Celebration Days in November
|Date||Celebration in English||Celebration in Spanish|
|November 3||Separation Day||El Día de la Separación|
|November 4||Flag Day||El Día de la Bandera|
|November 5||Colon Day||El Día de Colón|
|November 10||Los Santos Uprising Day||Primer Grito de Independencia de la Villa de los Santos|
|November 28||Independence Day||El Día de la Independencia|
Celebrating the Independence Day of Panama
As it seems to be the pattern in many Latin American countries, Panamanians are fond of extensive parades and firework showcases to commemorate the historical month of their republic.
Some people also wear the traditional clothes of the natives and perform traditional dances like El Tamborito.
Concerts and performances take place all over the country, especially in the city.
Nonetheless, many seize the opportunity of nearly three consecutive days off to leave the city and cool off at some of the 365 islands and cays Panama has to offer. Others visit family members in small towns who they don’t always get a chance to see.
Hard-earned independence calls for great celebrations and pride, and Panama knows it very well.
Let’s take a look at Panama’s National Symbols and how the citizens celebrate and praise them.
Flag Day—the second day of Panamanian celebrations—is also part of El día de los símbolos patrios (National Symbols Day). What makes the flag so important to these people is its relevance in the identity of the nation. They consider creating and defending the flag was a crucial step in their liberty and into cutting off their links to the United States.
First lady María de la Ossa de Amador was the wife of the first president of the republic, Manuel Amador Guerrero. She created the flag.
Other National Symbols
The National Pavilion, the National Anthem, and the Coat of Arms are all commemorated during Flag Day with special activities like the President performing important ceremonies at the Palace of the Herons.
Lifting the flag, reading the Act of Independence, and singing the National Anthem are all important events on this day.
I’m sure the compelling history of the Independence Day of Panama made you want to visit such a great country!
Here are some words and phrases you can use on your next trip!
|Atlantic Ocean||el Océano Atlántico|
|Coat of Arms||el Escudo de Armas|
|cry for independence||el grito por la independencia|
|fireworks||los juegos pirotécnicos, la pirotecnia|
|Independence Square||la Plaza de Independencia|
|National Anthem||el Himno Nacional|
|National Pavilion||el Pabellón Nacional|
|Pacific Ocean||el Océano Pacífico|
|Panama Canal||el Canal de Panamá|
|Independence Day of Panama||el Día de la Independencia de Panamá|
|Presidential Palace||el Palacio Presidencial|
Widen Your Perspective
Prepare for your visit to Panama to learn Spanish and get the best out of the language! Did you know that there are over 33 million Spanish speakers in the United States?
The Spanish language has become highly important over the years. Becoming fluent in a language that is common to so many American countries presents you with better job opportunities, insights on rich cultures, and efficient communication with Spanish speakers around the world.
Sign up for a free class at our academy today! Find out how our professional teachers will help you become a fluent and fearless Spanish speaker and notice how you boost your chances at getting that dream job!
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