Tag Archives: Christmas-in-the-Black-Canal-Zone

Calidonia and Christmas Bun

This little stand selling the precious Westindian style Bun was close to the entrance of "P" Street.

This little stand selling the precious Westindian style Bun was close to the entrance of “P” Street.

Raspadura or "dulce."  Nothing adds the distinctive flavor like Panamanian raspadura.

Raspadura or “dulce.” Nothing adds the distinctive flavor like Panamanian raspadura.

As we take a stroll down the busy streets of Calidonia here in downtown Panama City, I cannot help but remember how it was at one time in our country’s history when the Westindian presence more strongly flavored our National Character. Especially during Christmas, you can sense and appreciate the contribution our English and French speaking Antillean ancestors have left for us all to enjoy. Continue reading

And During Christmas Time… Sorrel!

Sorrel in its resplendant beauty with the traditional piece of ginger to prepare the drink.


Raspadura, or unrefined sugar cakes with its
very own Panamanian flavor.

At last it is Christmas season and the thousands of sacks containing agricultural products in the farmer’s market (Abasto) have turned a seasonal red with the production of Sorrel or saril (pronounced sah-ríl), as it has come to be known amongst the Spanish speaking people here! It is the principal raw material for the preparation of our traditional Christmas fruit drink. Known in Puerto Rico, Mexico and other parts of Central America as Jamaica, this plant/flower is planted here in Panama on June 24, the day of the patron saint San Juan Bautista and harvested in early December just in time for Holiday festivities. Continue reading

The Fourth of July, Christmas, Crown Pilot Crackers and the Commissaries-An American Lifestyle Unfolds in Panama

In 1996 Nabisco dropped the cracker
and then revived it in 1997 in the face of a
concerted campaign from consumers.

A real Westindian 4th of July “Picnic”
in the community
of Gorgona (earlY photo)
courtesy of czimages.com

By the 1930’s and 40’s the US Interoceanic Canal Commission (ICC) would, once again in history and with the able assistance of Black Westindian labor, effectively transform the bankrupt economy of the U.S.A. into the booming advertising centered economy that would eventually emerge during the 1950’s and 1960’s; and they would achieve this from an obscure corner of the world called Panama. Continue reading

Christmas Time in the “Black” Canal Zone

Holiday Gingerbread Cookies
Merry Christmas to you all and may your holidays be blessed and “sweet!”


The traditional
Christmas feast would eventually become an Americanized holiday for Westindian Black families living on the Canal Zone. The Christmas ham, turkey, cranberry sauce, eggnog, and all the other traditional fixings for the eagerly awaited celebration would be found in the commissary stores. Everything necessary to celebrate this yearly holiday from work and school was bought at the commissary with the familiar commissary coupon book and many families rejoiced at the thought of providing their holiday table with the best of fare from the United States. Continue reading