Chinese New Year in Panama is an event that continues to grow as relations between Panama and the People’s Republic of China strengthen. Our country had diplomatic relations with Taiwan until the government of President Juan Carlos Varela made the decision to change course, a move that was criticized by many.
What is certain is that the Chinese have a long history in the country. The first Chinese arrived on March 30, 1854 from Canada and Jamaica to work on the construction of the Panama Railroad. Of course, they grew, to the point that today it is estimated that between 4-8% of the population is Chinese or mixed with this ethnic group. Their traditions are our traditions. They have greatly influenced gastronomy. To the point that many Panamanians consider that Dim Sum is practically a Panamanian breakfast.
In 2023, the Chinese New Year was celebrated in Panama for the second consecutive year as a country event category held by the embassy of the People’s Republic of China and the National Council of Chinese Ethnic Groups in Panama.
This is the year of the Water Rabbit. The Chinese zodiac calendar has 12 years that are represented by 12 different animals that were the ones that Buddha summoned. Each zodiac sign also has its own element: Earth, Wood, Fire, Metal, and Water. For the Chinese, 2023 is considered a year of hope. The rabbit is a symbol of prosperity, longevity and peace for Chinese culture.
Chinese New Year in Panama
The Chinese New Year in Panama is celebrated the same as in China with the Spring Festival that lasts for 15 days. The date changes every year as it depends on the second moon after the winter solstice. This date can vary from the end of January to mid-February. In 2023, Chinese New Year fell on January 22.
The Chinese New Year in Panama’s celebrations took place from January 14 at ExpoAuto in Altaplaza Mall. The big event was at Parque V Centenario at the entrance to Casco Viejo on January 20, 21 and 22 from 3 to 9 p.m. I had the opportunity to visit this activity that was packed with people enjoying the pleasant summer weather. There were many stalls selling items, including rabbits. Apart from Chinese food and other options.
The decoration was beautiful, especially some umbrellas hanging from a bridge full of flowers. There were two stages where artists, bands and dancers were performing. The music ranged from Korean, Chinese to salsa, hip hop and pop. The choreographies were mainly done by young people dressed in costumes.
Apart from Casco Viejo, the Chinese New Year in Panama was celebrated in the main shopping centers of the city: Super Centro El Dorado, Multiplaza, Altaplaza Mall and Metromall. There was also a dinner at the Hotel Panama and activities in Chiriquí, Veraguas, Coclé, Herrera, Los Santos, Bocas del Toro and Panama West.
On February 5, there will be a walk for the Chinese New Year and the traditional Festival of Kites and Tambourines. From March 16 to 19, the International Dragon Boat Competition will take place on the Amador Causeway.
This Chinese New Year in Panama celebration has the potential to become a tourist event. In 2022, some 25,000 people attended the celebrations at Parque V Centenario in Casco Viejo. Next to Casco Viejo is one of the two Chinatowns in Panama City, the other being in El Dorado. These days of celebration offered free tours of the neighborhood. Those walking or passing through the area could see dancing dragons on the street and in businesses. Many belts and fireworks were also burned.