Special Features

Mother’s Day is celebrated on December 8 in Panama

By Howard Walker

motherly statues
The most common motherly
statues in Panama are those
depicting the Virgin Mary.

Panama celebrates Mother’s Day on December 8th. It seems that ours is the only country in the world to have chosen this date, and appropriately so. It is linked with a highly-revered event in the Catholic calendar, namely the Observance of the Immaculate Conception, which honours the Virgin Mary. The originator of the modern Mother’s Day, (Anna Jarvis, a U.S. citizen), placed it on the second Sunday in May, and this is the date commonly followed throughout the world, with some exceptions like Panama.

As travelers through the interior will have discovered, one of the attractive, distinguishing features of Panama’s settlements large and small is the statuary dedicated to this nation’s mothers. A particular favorite held in my memory is in David, capital of Chiriquí province. It depicts a lively interaction of mother and her offspring, one child nursed securely in her arms while other youngsters are at play around her, scrambling up and over the sculpted plinth.

Upon creating Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis stressed her desire that it honour motherhood within the context of family relationships. The David sculptor’s homage certainly is reflective of this worthy sentiment. It was good news that a recent restoration measure has been completed to ensure the continued preservation of this work of art.

Special days of mother worship certainly precede Anna Jarvis, going back to Greek and Roman antiquity. In medieval times, “Mothering Sunday” became part of the Christian year celebrated on the fourth Sunday in Lent, and became the date to be observed in the U.K. Traditionally, young women in service would bake a simnel cake to take home to their mothers on this, their eagerly anticipated day off.

playful natures of motherhood
This statue in David, Chirquí
captures both the nurturing and
playful natures of motherhood.

In France, matriarchs receive a cake resembling a bouquet of flowers. According to the Chinese Peoples Daily, Mother’s Day is now becoming popular in that country, also, ‘despite originating in the United States’. They find that it fits in well with the Chinese ethic of ‘respect to the elderly and filial piety to parents’. Carnations are popular gifts, but some prefer lilies, the flower planted by Chinese mothers when children leave home.

“Mother’s Day” or “Mothers’ Day”? Where should the apostrophe go? Anna Jarvis was quite clear that the spelling should have a singular possessive, thus focusing on each family individually to honour their mother. The spelling was not to be a plural possessive commemorating all the mothers of the world.

Unfortunately, one cannot say that she was happy with the results of her well-meant initiative. She soon became appalled at the rapid commercial exploitation of Mother’s Day and just nine years after the first celebration, she spent the rest of her life (and much of her inheritance) opposing its abuse. Upon being arrested for disturbing the peace, she stated that she wished she had never started the day which so quickly had gotten “wildly out of control”. She expressed disgust for the “greeting card” mentality of people “too lazy to write a personal letter”.

Today, in the U.S. it has become the most popular time to dine out, and of course one of the most commercially successful occasions, especially for the floral and greeting card business. I wonder what Ms. Jarvis would think about those email Hallmark greetings?! Happy Mother’s Day!

The season to look good

By Ursula Kiener Ford

Black and cream dress from Il Negozio
Il Negozio Black and cream
dress / Vestido negro y
crema by D & G, $570

The holiday season means parties with friends, corporate events, and family gatherings. I am going to invest in my wardrobe for this busy month. Nobody wants to be seen in the same dress twice! New residents soon discover what we Panamanians already know: ¡Panama es chiquito! (Panama is super small!). So count on seeing the same faces – maybe once or even twice – as you navigate Panama’s end-of-year celebrations.

Purple dress from SoHo Boutique
SoHo Boutique Purple dress
by Rubber Ducky, $69.95
Gold necklace with charms
and rhinestones, $32.95
Gold bracelet, $23.95
Gold and rhinestone
shoes, $45.95

The economic crisis has inspired fashion designers around the world to create collections that mix and match with previous collections, so that their customers don’t have to buy a whole new wardrobe in order to look good in tough economic times. But Panama’s economy is still steadily growing! So I want everything new: Shoes, shirts, dresses, belts, earrings and dresses... especially dresses!

People come from around the Americas and the Caribbean just to shop in our buyer’s paradise. We have it all, from upscale Chanel boutiques to the mega-savings emporium called Titan. There’s no excuse not to spend.

The perfect look depends on the occasion itself. I visited some Panama City fashion hot spots to check out the best looks on the racks this season.


This mega-department store has everything you could ever need, and for shoppers of all ages, styles and budgets. If you are in a group, this is a great store to split up in to get caught up in the functional fashion, shoes, accessories, fragrances and cosmetics that are all available at great prices. There are four locations: Multiplaza, Metro Mall, Albrook Mall and Los Pueblos. Or visit www.stevens.com.pa.

Gray sequin dress from Il Negozio
Il Negozio Gray sequin
dress by Roberto Cavalli
CLASS $750.00

I found a great teal dress perfect for one of my corporate events or maybe even a political function. I got a great deal on the perfect pair of golden shoes, an amber purse, gold earrings and a beaded necklace that brought the whole look together. Total investment: $150.75. Steven’s is great for putting together a complete look without spending too much.

Ursula owns The Panama Club assisting foreigners who wish to relocate, invest or travel to Panama. To contact please write to: ursula@thepanamanetwork.com
Yellow gown from SoHo Boutique
SoHo Boutique Yellow gown
by Jovani, $385.00
Chandelier earrings, $18.95
Ring, $23.95
Red clutch, $38.50

SoHo Boutique

There is so much variety at this unique and fashionable women’s boutique that it was hard to pick out my favorite look – so I found two! They sell dresses and fashion jeans for women of all sizes. I loved the first look – a purple party dress. I also found the perfect shoes, earrings and bracelet to go with the look right at SoHo. Investment: $172.80 – not bad!

For a very formal occasion, I fell in love with this new golden gown, the perfect red purse, earrings and ring to match. Investment: $467.00 and totally worth it. SoHo Boutique is located in Centro La Florida, often called Plaza Marbella, just across from the World Trade Center in Marbella (you enter at the Patilla roundabout and go towards Calle 50). Open every day of the week this holiday season, from 9 am to 7pm. Call 263-2690 for questions or directions.

playful natures of motherhood
Steven’s Teal dress by
Jessica Howard, $69.95
Beaded necklace by
About Color, $16.95
Gold hoop earrings, $6.95
Amber purse by La
Regale, $39.95
Gold shoes by
Delicious, $16.95

Il Negozio

There’s nothing like my friends Dolce & Gabanna, Armani, Gucci and Versace to set the tone at high-power events. Il Negozio, located in the bottom-floor galleries of Credicorp Bank (known locally as “el edificion inteligente”) on Calle 50, is the spot for discounted Italian wares. Nobody knows if it’s two seasons old in Milan – and I don’t mind saving hundreds of dollars while looking this good!

Sequins are classic for the holidays, and the bullet-gray sequin dress I found by Roberto Cavalli’s ultra-top line “CLASS” comes with a gold clip that sets it in a class of its own. Investment: $750 (It’s actually a $1,500 dress). My absolute favorite was a D & G dress by Dolce & Gabanna, from their more casual and youthful line. It totally fits with my personality and has the perfect cut, design and texture that makes a girl feel like she’s on a Paris runway even at a corporate cocktail. Investment: $570.

And I couldn’t resist the Armani shades either. A pair of quality sunglasses is completely necessary here in the tropics. At just over $100, that’s reason to stop by Il Negozio and pick up a pair – or two! Call 394-6700.

Ten tips for buying & caring for cut flowers

(and secrets to making them last longer)

Donna Dawson
It’s a special occasion and you want to get some flowers… so what do you look for? Here are a few pointers ensure that your floral choice will last as long possible and give you maximum enjoyment.

1. Selection the furthest from your reach. Flowers are rotated according to their age and you can be sure that the oldest ones will usually be the easiest to access.

2. If flowers are displayed in a tiered fashion and you have a choice, make your selection from the upper tiers. When you pull a bouquet from the bucket, notice how drops of water fall onto the lower bouquets. This causes mold and brown spots on those flowers. Try to avoid dripping on surrounding flowers as much as possible.

3. Look for erect heads and stems. If a stem, head or tip of a flower is drooping or bent, the flower is old or it can no longer draw water.

4. If you see wilted petals, or even worse, loose, fallen petals, avoid that bunch. Petals should be bright and vibrant.

5. Watch for signs of browning edges or brown spots on petals.

6. If it feels firm and tight, then it’s alright. When buying roses, gently squeeze the base of the head. Purchase roses with the fewest cracked petals and the tightest heads.

7. Watch for slime on the stems. Look for the freshest cut on the stems. A dark ring around the base means the cut is old and the flower hasn’t been able to drink as much as it wants to.

flower-buying tips
With Master Gardener Donna Dawson’s
flower-buying tips, your Mother’s Day (Dec 8
in Panama) flower gift will be a long-
lasting, stand-out winner.

8. Don’t buy flowers with loose pollen on the petals.

9. If you’re not going to arrange them right away, remove the wrapping, cut the string or rubber band and put the flowers into a clean sink or bucket of warm water (except chrysanthemums which prefer cool water).

10. Once you’ve made your purchase, get it home as soon as possible and follow these guidelines: Arrange them in the container as soon as practical. Your vase or container should be clean. Bacteria is a flower’s worst enemy! Treat the water with the package of flower food usually contained in the bouquet. Cut ALL stems at an angle just before putting them into the vase. They will be able to drink more water. To extend the life of your arrangement, give the stems a fresh cut each day and add fresh water.

Contact Donna at donna@whypanama.net. Visit www.icangarden.com.