Mother’s Day Celebration in Panama: December 8th

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Mother’s Day Celebration in Panama: December 8th

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December 8th. If you are Panamanian, this date holds about as much significance as Christmas, New Years, or Independence Day. It's Mother's Day, which also, not surprisingly, is the date of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception when Catholics worldwide celebrate the solemn belief in the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Restored Inmaculada Concepción Statue at San Miguel Church
Restored Inmaculada Concepción Statue at San Miguel Church. Photo Source: Cofrades by Jorge Luis Martínez Ortega

Coincidence? Of course not.

With Panama being settled by Catholic Spanish immigrants starting in the early 1500's, it's no wonder that Catholicism has a very strong hold on the country. Presently around 70% of the population identifies as Roman Catholic.

So in 1924 when the Rotary Club of Panama suggested that Mother's Day be on May 11th (convenient for US citizens, of which at the time there were a large number living in the Canal Zone), Panamanians naturally disagreed and proposed December 8th instead. It was immediately approved and created into a national holiday.

This also goes to show just how loved and appreciated mothers are in Panama. They are compared to the Blessed Virgin Mary - in a Catholic's eyes, there is no greater comparison.

Mother's Day Celebration at Habla Ya Boquete (not on Mother's Day!) a couple of years ago.

Since the country basically shuts down for national holidays (all public services and the majority of private businesses are closed), Panamanians have no excuse to not shower their mothers with extra love on their special day. Family members travel from afar to spend time with their "querida mama" (loved mom).

Big meals are cooked, children and grandchildren run around the house, and stories are told reminiscing of fun memories. It's also popular to eat at restaurants on Mother's Day to give the moms a break from the kitchen.

Gifts are given and moms put on their best attire and jewelry to go into town. Some towns have parades to celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

In indigenous Ngäbe communities, the entire community gets together and hosts a big celebration. The men cook a big meal while the women get dressed up in their best outfits with jewelry and makeup. Everyone eats and drinks and as night falls, music starts up and the dancing begins, lasting long into the night. It's a well-deserved fun night for the moms!

Mothers and daughters in La Comarca
Mothers and daughters in La Comarca

How do you celebrate your mom on Mother's Day? Share with us in the comments!

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Search our blog if you're visiting Panama! From must do's, where to party or eat, to which beaches and hiking trails you shouldn't miss, you'll find great insider info about Bocas del Toro, Panama City and Boquete, as well as Panamanian culture, customs and traditions, and certainly tips and advice for learning Spanish while in our country! We've been writing about all things Panama for over 10 years and nothing beats local knowledge from the locals themselves.


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