THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS

Columbian Made

It’s a surreal and spectacular sight and something which everyone gets involved in.

La Noche de Las Velitas is celebrated all over Colombia on December 7. In honour of the Virgin Mary, people line the streets, their windows and doorways, parks, squares and any other free space with candles and lanterns. I guess she must have really loved candles.

Local delicacies also get heavily involved, so don’t be surprised to find an ajiaco on your Christmas table.

No, I’m not going to claim that eating food around Christmas time started in Colombia but, as in any country, the traditional dishes play an important role in the celebrations. In Colombia, you’ll be hard pushed to avoid buñuelos and natilla (a custard-based desert made with panela and cinnamon or arequipe).

Of course this is a religious festival but it is also an opportunity to gather the family in celebration and feel the homely warmth of the Colombian festive season.

Novenas is a tradition that started in the eighteenth century and is a celebration in honour of Jesus (you might have heard of him). It begins nine days before Christmasand every day people gather in homes, offices and parks to get involved in some singing, praying and general merriment.

Christmas lighting paths is one of the most beautiful and colorful festivals that Bogotá and many other cities have.

The mayoralty performs concerts to welcome the Christmas lights where artists from across the country meet in the streets and on Christmas Night showing the beauty of the city. Local government decorates the main avenues of the city and holds events along these roads.

Día de las Velitas: The Día de las Velitas (Day of the Little Candles) marks the true beginning of the Christmas season for many of Colombia’s devout Catholics and is one of the most beautiful days of the year, regardless of religious affiliation.

The celebration, which typically takes place the night of December 7th, honors the Virgin Mary and commemorates the Feast of the Immaculate Conception by filling the streets of cities and towns with the light of millions of small candles. People light candles at landmarks, public spaces and in their own homes to welcome the holiday season, creating beautiful scenes of flickering shadows across the whole country. Some cities celebrate with parades or other events, while others line streets with large candles or hang lanterns from windows. In the colonial village of Villa de Leyva, the festivities include an enormous fireworks show. Though the day is technically an observance of a religious event in this majority-Catholic nation, non-religious folks participate as well, simply as a recognition of the holiday and a celebration of light.