Friday, November 8, 2013

November- a month of celebration

The following was copied from the El Vivo Resorts newsletter of November. Panama also celebrates November 2nd with shops closed, no liquor sold:

Celebrate Day of the Dead
By Gloria Guzman

“El Día de los Muertos
From pre Columbian times, El Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, has been celebrated in Mexico, and other Latin countries. This is a very special ritual, since it is the day in which the living remember their departed relatives.
Day of the Dead is the most time-honored and expressive holiday of Oaxaca. It has become known for its ornately rich celebrations that honor the return of their deceased loved ones on November 1st and 2nd. Legend says that the gates of heaven open at midnight, and that the souls of dead children – angelitos – are the first to visit their loved ones still on earth. They roam the earth for just one day, and then the following midnight, the gates are opened once again to allow the adult souls to descend.
Altars known as ofrendas or offerings
The dead are welcomed by their families through the construction of elaborate altars known as ofrendas, or offerings. The altars consist of many items that are well-considered with the dead loved ones in mind. The sweet-smelling cempasuchil (marigolds), oil lamps and bees wax candles adorned with different color tissue paper are the final decorative accents of the altar. The special offerings of food may include mole, tamales, nicuatole, pumpkin cooked with brown sugar, cane sugar and tejocotes. Beautifully decorated pan de muerto, chocolate, pecans and peanuts. Fresh fruits; oranges, lemons, bananas, jícama, tejocotes, nísperos and pineapple. If the deceased smoked or drank, then cigarettes and mezcal are placed on the altar together with any other special foods or tributes which were a favorite in life. The dead beloved ones are welcomed into their home and expected to bask in the essence of this splendid fervor.
This holiday honors those loved and lost. It is a day of happiness because, for a few hours, remembrance of them keeps them alive. Dia de los Muertos is about Love and Traditions.”
In Panama, the entire weekend includes November 1st to November 4th with ‘Separation from Colombia’ also being celebrated (November 3, 1905). Later this month there is ‘Flag Day’ on November 4th, in Pedasi, the patron saint of the town, Santa Catalina, is worshipped on November 25th, and another, bigger national celebration of ‘Independence from Spain’ on November 28th! It is literally a month of holidays and very little work. Panamanians really love their traditions and holidays. They usually work 6 days a week and attend the local church on Sunday, so these special days become a treat of sorts. Most restaurants are open 6 days a week and in Pedasi they rotate their day off so not all are closed on the same day! Thoughtful…

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