Mardi Gras festivities start the Friday before Fat Tuesday... and last through 1 p.m. on the Wednesday AFTER Mardi Gras. Even if you're bad at math, it doesn't take a sober person to figure out that's almost a week of intense partying. Every night during Mardi Gras, fireworks start going off at midnight and continue throughout the night. People drink local beer like it's water. Restaurants and banks are closed. And some of the main roads are closed to accommodate the tens of thousands of party-goers. (I can tell you from experience that this is great for pedestrians, but bad for driver's who happen to live on a closed road.)
Poor St. Valentine had the bad luck of timing. This year, Valentine's Day happened to be on the day after the Mardi Gras debauchery---er, celebration--ended. Remembering Valentine's Day after a week-long holiday is like a chipmunk trying to wrestle a gorilla... it's not a fair fight.
The exhausted, hung-over locals might pick up a wilted bouquet of flowers or give their sweetheart a box of chocolates, but it's not the pomp and circumstance that it is in the States. In fact, the only Valentine's Day advertisement I've seen is for the Bennigan's Restaurant that is 200 feet from my condo building. Unlike American Valentine's Day events of overpriced multi-course meals, the Panama Bennigan's was advertising discounted dinner specials. That's how you know that Valentine's Day in Panama is a non sequitur... since when does Valentine's Day need a discount to draw diners.
If you want a diamond tennis bracelet, be sure to get it in America because the Panamanians would rather give diamonds in the sky as they shoot off fireworks all night long for Mardi Gras. St. Valentine, don't worry though. I'm sure couples felt your cupid's arrow during Mardi Gras.