31 October 2016

Why Celebrate Christmas in Colombia

Posted in Blog

Christmas in Colombia is truly a magical time. Colombian's enjoy Christmas by spending time with family and friends whilst remembering the significance of religion.

Christmas in Colombia

Whilst everyone has their unique Christmas and family traditions, the most common traditions celebrated in Colombia revolve around family and religion.

The 7th December marks the official start of the Christmas season with the Dia/Noche de las Velitas (Day or Night of the Candles). Celebrations usually start at 7pm with the lighting of candles and joining together of families or neighbourhoods. This day signifies the arrival of the virgin and the candles are lit to make wishes to the virgin for the upcoming year, and also to give thanks for the blessings during the previous year. The celebrations continue into the next day with the 8th of December being a national holiday and the Feast of Immaculate Conception. Whilst every region in Colombia celebrates these two days slightly differently by lighting candles at different times and in different places, every region has the same belief for the day.

December 16th signifies the first day of the Christmas Novena, which is a time of religious devotion shown with private and public prayers repeated every night for 9 consecutive days leading from December 16th to Christmas Eve. During these evenings friends and families get together to say Novenas, sing carols with instruments called villancicos, eat traditional Colombian foods, read versus from the bible and celebrate the arrival of Christmas. Family members or friends usually take it in turns to host the evenings.

In Colombia Christmas Eve is the most important day in the Christmas calendar. The evening is filled with family and friends gathering together to exchange presents, have a Christmas meal and celebrate the last Novena. In Colombia children receive presents from el niño Dios (baby Jesus) and open them at midnight on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Day in Colombia is a relatively quiet day and a day to relax after Christmas Eve's festivities; some families may attend a Christmas Day mass or gather together to have brunch or lunch. Many families leave the big cities on Christmas Day to travel to other parts of Colombia or around the world to have a holiday or meet up with other family members.

Colombian tradition celebrates Día de los Reyes Magos or The Day of the Three Kings: this day signifies the day that the Three Kings visited baby Jesus and gave their gifts. In the past this day used to be the day for giving gifts but those traditions have since changed to Christmas Eve, but January 6th is still considered a National Holiday in Colombia.

Whilst every country has their Christmas traditions, every family also has their specific traditions and everyone celebrates Christmas slightly differently. Although this is true Christmas still has the same meaning and purpose for most people: to celebrate the birth of Jesus with family and friends from near and far, to give thanks and share aspirations for the upcoming year.

Anny Wooldridge

About the author:

My name is Anny, I am from a small village in the East of England. Since graduating University and realising I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life, I started travelling and working abroad. Travelling was always a passion of mine and I managed to turn it into a career. I have worked as a water ski instructor in Greece and America, a nanny in a snow ski resort in France and I am now embarking on a new adventure to teach English in Bogota, Colombia. You can read more about my adventures at annysadventuresblog.wordpress.com

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