The Celebration Changes
Updated: Jul 10, 2018
Currently I'm sitting in the yard at Hostel Kimmel on a sunny Sundy afternoon that storm clouds are threatening to interrupt. Chickens and music from the bars provide the soundtrack for coffee drinking and blog writing. Earlier, I conducted an interview with the aid of Marino, while Kathy and Michelle talked to shop-keepers in town. We then headed to Las Tablas for lunch and for the laundromat: the anthropologists are sweaty, and the sink washing has its limits. Saturday was central in the Fiesta Pagana part of the Santo Domingo celebration; that is, the part that is not religious. As Friday was the feast day for Santo Domingo, according to the old church calendar still being used, the specific religoous celebration concluded with mass Friday morning and people then turned to bull-fights, dances, traditional music and simply partying in the jardines, the bars. Observations from the mass will be forth-coming, We joined the Tamborito performance, traditional Panamanian music, and had a blast listening and dancing along. The people of Santo Domingo are not only welcoming and generously sharing their traditions and knowledge with us - they also know how to throw a party.
Cultural Comparison, Done With Care
A theme that has turned up, and which contrasts with our study of Corpus Christi in Parita last year, is that the religious and secular celebrations are less integrated. While the religious part is managed and arranged by the church, its staff and volunteers, the secular celebrations are managed by and "owned" by private individuals, whereas in Parita, a festival committee, the patrondo, would be part of everything related to the festival. These "owners" then are in charge of the party in their jardines, such as music and access to watch the bull-fights. A cover fee is charged for entrance, which was also not the case for any event in Parita. At the city square in front of the church, some vendors have set up booths, and their permit is from the town, rather than coordinated by a committee.
On occasions, there have been issues coordinating dates as the church is not in favor of the bars starting their parties before all the religious celebrations are completed, and the bar owners are interested in organizing their events on weekends to accommodate the most people.
An example of Tamborito music. The lyrics differ, in some songs paying homage to this part of Panama and in others focusing on universal topics such as love. Note the Afro-Carribean inspiration.
This seems to be the case throughout this province, Los Santos, and as we analyze our data, we will see whether a meaningful comparison between the two towns on this issue can be made, or whether it is a matter of difference of the structure of the festival. It is quite possible our friends in Parita can tell us about their patron saint celebration, and depending upon what information we are able to get, a comparison can or cannot be made. One of the strongest points of anthropology is cross-cultural comparisons; however, much care must be made to ensure the comparison is valid.