I came across this at work today and had to share!
Each year, in Panama, the third Monday in May is “Dia de las Trenzas”, or “Day of the Braids”, and it’s just what it sounds like.
It all started as a form of resistance back in 2012, after several high schools forbade students from wearing braided hairstyles. May is Panama’s month dedicated to commemorating la etnia negra, or the black ethnic group, and since then, Dia de las Trenzas has become part of the celebrations.
According to singer Yomira John, Dia de las Trenzas is celebrated “to reaffirm black heritage and the contribution of those of African descent to the culture of the country… braids establish a way to weave links of brotherhood between all Panamanians, regardless of color.”
This was so cool to me because in countries all over the world, it’s been called into question at some time or another whether braided styles are appropriate in academic and professional environments.
Whether you’re in Panama, the US, Belgium, Jamaica, Nigeria or pretty much anywhere, you’ll find little curly haired girls that can tell you horror stories of when their mother, grandmother, or aunt would call them into their bedroom and tell them to sit on the floor to get their hair braided.
It is a part of our culture that links us.
So to have the appropriateness of something so foundational to who we are called into question over and over can be hard.
Having Panamanians of all colors and hair textures come together to celebrate braided hairstyles shows that they- and by extension, those that wear them- have a place in Panamanian society, which is beautiful.
Now if only I’d known ahead of time, I would have definitely partaken in the festivities!
There’s always next year 😉
You can read more about Dia de las Trenzas here (it’s in spanish, but google translate, ya’ll).
And check out this video as well! It won’t embed for some reason, but prepare for the cuteness:
(my favorite part is, at 00:45, when the little girl says *smilimg* “I like them… I like them a lot… It hurt when my mom did them… it made me cry…” We feel your pain, girl!!)