Holidays Around the World / Colombia
Holidays Around the World, December 2014. By Maria Bonilla. DIA DE LAS VELITAS (Candlelight day) Marks the start of Christmas season in Colombia. People commemorate the date place candles and paper lanterns on their windows, balconies, porches, sidewalks, streets, parks and squares, in short, everywhere they can be seen, It is celebrated on December 7 in honor of the Virgin Mary and her immaculate conception.
NOVENA DE AGUINALDO/ On Dec. 16 the novenas begin, a special moment of the day in which families, friends and neighbors join to pray on nine successive days, commemorating the birth of Jesus. The last is the evening of Dec. 24, when everyone remembers that Jesus came to earth. These traditions are still celebrated and help people to keep in mind the real meaning of Christmas. During these special celebrations people sing Christmas carols, and read Bible verses, among other activities.
PESEBRE (NATIVITY): In the majority of Colombian homes, kids build the Nativity scene that represents the place where Jesus was born. Baby Jesus, is surrounded by his parents, Mary and Joseph and the Three Kings, and also by a donkey and sheep. Families gather around the Nativity set and pray the Novena. Tradition dictates that baby Jesus can only be put in his hay crib until December 25th. It is also tradition to recreate the Nativity scene live with people representing each character.
NOCHE BUENA (CHRISTMAS EVE DINNER). Christmas night, families share special dinners, depending on which region of Colombia they are in. Some eat turkey, lechona (pork filled with rice and peas), among other typical dishes. They also give everyone the presents that the Baby Jesus brought. While we knew about Santa Clause, he didn’t come to Colombia
INNOCENT DAYS. Finally on Dec. 28 in Colombia, we celebrate the Innocent Days, a date full of fun and jokes because people use to do jests, like giving others fake food, inventing stories, and so on. On TV channels, they transmit the funny mistakes people do, and even newspapers create funny news. These are some of the important celebrations and customs people do in Colombia to celebrate Jesus’ birthday.
CHRISTMAS FOOD IN COLOMBIA/ One of the most popular dishes in the season are buñuelos, originally from Jewish and Arabian culture. It came to Latin America during the Spanish colonization. These are cheese fritters made of cornstarch, butter and cheese. To prepare them, knead all the ingredients together and then form small balls. They are often served with natilla, a sweet dessert made out of milk, butter, panela, cinnamon, and lots of love.