Panama is easily one of the most devoutly Roman Catholic countries on the planet, and the way Panamanians celebrate Easter tends to back up that fact.
|2019||19 Apr||Fri||Good Friday|
|2020||10 Apr||Fri||Good Friday|
Besides the build-up to Easter, beginning with Carnival and Lent over 40 days before Easter Sunday, the full “Easter Triduum,” Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, are public holidays. Everyone gets a four-day weekend, and most get a half day on the Wednesday before Maundy Thursday.
To put it in terms of statistics, over 80 percent of Panamanians are Roman Catholic, and over 70 percent attend mass regularly every week, many of them multiple times per week.
Easter is really a week-long affair in Panama. All of Holy Week, from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, is a time for special masses, local religious processions dedicated to Mary, Jesus, or one of the Saints, and to prayer, self-examination, and re-dedication the Catholic faith. For the most part, such parades take place in the evening, to allow for maximum participation.
Should you be in Panama during the Easter season, here are some ideas on what to do:
- Head to the beach on Easter Day and the day before, like many Panamanians will be doing. Also explore the interior, with its rain forests and natural, exotic beauty. The cities will be somewhat empty anyway for part of the week, so why not “go with the flow” and “go where the action is?”
- Attend Easter services at the impressively large Catholic church in Puerto Armuelles, named San Antonio de Padua Catholic Church. You may also wish to attend any of the numerous masses held in Panama City or throughout the country.
- All over Panama, in towns large and small, you will find Good Friday processions taking place. Many of these will have up to 14 Stations of the Cross, symbolizing everything from Jesus’ being sentenced to death by Pontius Pilate to His being laid in the rock-hewn tomb. Some parades will also have floats, colourful dress, and religious icons that are carried about.
Panama celebrates Easter with more religious devotion than most other countries, but enjoying nature and a weekend at the beach are also major elements of the celebrations.