• New Year’s Eve in Panama!

    Hey everybody,

    Sorry it’s been awhile since my last post. I took a little bit of time off to spend with the family over the holidays. I’m back now and excited to start the New Year off right. This will be a short, and very quickly written post, as I’m about to head out with the family. We’re staying at a hotel and partying tonight. But, I didn’t want to go out without wishing everyone a Happy New Year, and writing a quick post about the traditions here in Panama.

    We spent last year with extended family

    New Year’s Eve is such an extraordinary time of the year here. Everyone is in great spirits and ready to party like rock stars (minus the hardcore drugs and naked groupies). It’s rare that you’ll find anyone just sitting around watching TV when the ball drops. Why is that? It’s because Panamanians believe that how you start your new year is how the rest of your year will unwind. 

    Last year, my wife asked my mom how she spent New Year’s Eve, and my mom replied that she was so exhausted from work that she passed out and didn’t wake up until well after midnight. You should have heard my wife’s gasp. She turned to me and whispered, “Your mom was sleeping at the start of the New Year?”

    To Marlene, and to many other Panamanians, starting the new year off in bed means there’s a good change the rest of the year will be lazily wasted away. Now, if you’re in bed doing other things, does that mean that’s how the rest of your year will be spent…in bed…not-so-lazily? Hmm…

    We always keep the family together to start the new year

    Okay, I was about to go off on a tangent again. So, I’m writing this post, early in the afternoon on New Year’s Eve, to push you to get out and do something. It doesn’t matter if you’re dancing in your living room, sipping champagne, just husband and wife. The point is, you’re dancing and having a blast at midnight. Just grab some pots and pans and get ready to bang them together like crazy with your neighbors, or relax in lawn chairs and watch the fireworks go off all around you.

    The kids love New Year’s Eve!

    Panamanians have a lot of fun, and some odd, traditions for the holiday. My sister-in-law, yes, Dr. Dar, held a toy car in her hand until after midnight because she believes that having a brand new car at midnight means you’ll soon be getting a real, brand new car. She did that with a house the year before and guess what…she bought a brand new house in David. So, if you haven’t already, head out to your local toy store and buy some new toys. I might pick up the Barbie Mansion and hold it in my lap until12:05 (maybe the 5 extra minutes will help).

    Found this car in my sons’ toy box. It’s going in my pocket tonight!

    Another tradition, and if you’re living here in Panama you might have seen this already, is the running around the neighborhood with a suitcase. Panamanians who love to travel, or wish to travel, will sometimes grab their rolling suitcase and take it for a stroll. This is supposed to ensure that you’ll spend the year traveling.  

    Make sure you have 12 grapes (per person) ready, as it’s another tradition that you’re supposed to eat a grape for each year of the month. This is supposed to lead to good luck and prosperity.

    Happy New Year!!!

    I could probably go on all day about the traditions here in Panama. I’ve been told that you have to have on new underwear, and new clothes, and I’ve been told that it’s good luck to have money (bills) between your toes at midnight, and you have to have some money in your wallet, and I can’t remember all the others. 

    I’m sure you have some traditions of your own back in your country or ones you’ve brought here to Panama. Share those traditions. Panamanians love to learn new fun ways to bring in the new year. So wherever your new year finds you, whether with family, friends, or complete strangers, make sure you’re receiving it well, with smiles, laughter, dancing, and a good mood to set the pace for the coming year. 

    Happy New Year and thanks for reading,



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4 Responsesso far.

  1. Marcelia says:

    Hello Chris,

    My boyfriend and I will be in Panama City for New Years Eve this year and can use some suggestions on where to stay or where to find a good party vibe? We were thinking the Hard Rock Hotel but have no idea if we can walk to clubs/beach parties, etc. We are open to anything, just making sure to have a good time. It would be great to see some traditions and get away from too commercial, especially since we are from the US. Any thoughts?


    • Chris says:

      Hi Marcelia,

      Thanks so much for checking out the site and for commenting. I don’t know much about the New Year’s Eve bashes around the country, but I know the one at Hotel El Panama is really popular. The family and I partied like rock stars there last year. It was a lot of fun. I want to say it costs about $200 for the room and party (drinks and dinner included), but you should call to make sure on the price. Plus, you want to book a room well in advance. Every year at Hotel El Panama (and at Hard Rock and many of the other hotels) famous Panamanian artists perform live on stage out by the pool. The other good thing about Hotel El Panama is its close proximity to the casinos. So, if you plan to stay more than just the night, you can check out some of the casinos and bars in the area. You won’t be able to go to the beach (other than a day trip out to one of the beaches in the interior), but you can always hop in a taxi and head over to the bay front Cinta Costera, which is an awesome place to go for a walk (especially at night since it’s all lit up and people go there to jog and exercise). Or you can go to the restaurants and bars in Casco Viejo. Calle Uruguay in the city and Zona Rumba at the Amador Causeway are the two most popular club hopping areas in the city. So…I’d do the Hotel El Panama thing for New Year’s Eve (or try the Hard Rock one) and do your club hopping and stuff other days. Hope this helps. Oh, here’s the website for that hotel http://www.elpanama.com/. Oh and I almost forgot I have a video of last year’s New Year’s Eve party. Check it out here: http://www.panamaforreal.com/all-pfr-video-reports/pfr-video-extras/panama-new-year-2014/


  2. Lisanne says:

    When the kids were little, we’d stay up playing games. Then, at midnight, we’d bundle them up and march around the neighborhood banging pots and pans and shouting “Happy New Year!” It was a lot of fun.

    Now, my husband goes to sleep about 9 and I watch movies, then just before midnight I switch to watch the ball fall in Times Square. Boring, but it works for me!

    Happiest of New Years to you and your family.

    • Chris says:

      Ha, no bundling your kids up here. I wish there was a nice holiday cold front that’d blow through Panama. We did the pots and pans last year, but just from our front porch. Thanks Lisanne, and Happy New Year to you and your family!

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