November 5 – Colon Day in Panama

Posted on November 5, 2015

I kind of think that Panama should just shut its governmental buildings and banks and stuff for all of November – there are so many holidays this month!
  • November 2 is Day of the Dead.
  • November 3 is Separation Day (celebrating the 1903 separation from Colombia).  
  • November 4 is Flag Day.
  • Today, November 5, is Colon Day (commemorating the persuasion of the Colombian forces not to fight against Panama's separation).
  • November 10 is Primer Grito de Independencia de Panama de Espana (the Cry for Independence from Spain, in 1821).
  • November 28 is Independence Day proper (celebrating the break from Spain in 1821). 
I read that pretty much everything shuts down each of these days, and there are big parades, lots of music, and plenty of fireworks...and all I can say is, that's a whole lot of celebrating in one month!

Colon, Panama, is a sea port on the Caribbean Sea. It is the northern gateway to the Panama Canal (which I always think of a east-and-west passageway, because it is the gateway for ships from the eastern Atlantic Ocean to the western Pacific Ocean...BUT the canal really runs more north-and-south, because of the “S” shape of Panama).

Colon is named after Christopher Columbus. Columbus, of course, was a person around whom passions and controversy swirl – he is honored and celebrated almost as much as he is reviled and hated – and Colon, Panama, is also a bundle of contradictions:
  • Colon is an important Free Trade Zone (or duty-free zone), a place where posh cruise ships come, a place where tourists visit swanky resorts, a place where many of the most educated and wealthy Panamanians used to live. 

The beach above is called Starfish Beach,
because it typically looks like the photo below...

  • But it is also a place where there has been much poverty and protest and crime; because of these negatives, many of the wealthiest inhabitants have moved to the U.S., the U.K., or elsewhere.

In the past year, however, the city has begun a massive restoration and reconstruction plan.

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