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Christmas Around The World – Colombia

Christmas around the world colombia banner image

In our previous Christmas around the world series, we visited China to see how the Chinese people celebrated Christmas. Today we find ourselves in Colombia.

Colombia comes from the last name of the explorer Christopher Columbus, and sees 99% of the population speaking Spanish.

It is the third largest exporter of coffee in the world, as well as being the world’s leading sourced of emeralds.

Let’s dive into Christmas celebrations in Colombia (pronounced Col-om-bia not Col-um-bia)

When

7th December – 25th December (with the 28th December celebrated as Innocents Day)

Religious Influence

Roman Catholic

Day of the little candles scene

Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

Decorations

The 7th December is known as “Día de las Velitas” which means “Day of the little candles“, where houses and streets are decorated with candles, lanterns and lights.

People will often have Christmas trees in their homes along with other decorations including red and white candles which are commonly placed in windows and on balconies.

The nativity scene (El pesebre) is important and children put their ‘Carta al Niño Dios‘ (letter to baby Jesus) in it.

Customs

On Día de las Velitas, there are big firework displays with music and food.

From 16th – 24th December, it’s common practice to take part in ‘novenas‘ where family and friends get together for daily prayer at a different person’s house every night. They also sing carols and eat food

Children sat around a nativity scene

Photo by Craig Adderley from Pexels

Children will write their Carta al Niño Dios in early December to ask for what presents they’d like. This letter is then placed in the nativity scene in the hope that Jesus will bring presents on Christmas Eve.

Many people will go to midnight mass and so Christmas Day is usually more relaxed. 

People celebrate Innocents Day on the 28th December which is similar to April Fools Day, with bloopers and funny mistakes shown on television.

Food

Food on the 7th December includes things like ‘buñuelos‘ (fried dough balls) and ‘empanadas‘ (baked or fried pasty).

Tray of empanadas fried pasties

The main Christmas meal is called ‘Cena de Navidad‘ which is eaten on Christmas Eve. This meal often includes ‘lechona‘ (pork filled with rice and peas), ham, turkey and ‘ajiaco bogotano‘ (chicken soup).

Other common food are ‘Colombian buñuelos‘ (cheesy fritters), ‘hojuelas‘ (fried pastry with sugar and jam), and ‘arepas‘ (thick dish made from corn). A popular dessert is ‘natilla‘ (set custard).

Food on Christmas day is usually just leftovers from Christmas Eve.

Our next destination in our Christmas around the world series, takes us to Costa Rica.

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