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How Do People of Colombia Celebrate the Holidays?

For a lot of people, what really motivates them to go to Colombia during the holidays is Little Candles’ Day.

For some, it’s the food. And for others, well, they just want to spend their Christmas somewhere else. Maybe it’s for a change of scenery, maybe it’s because they’ve been encouraged by friends or a lover, or maybe they just want to get away from everything for a while.

Whatever the reason may be, going for a Colombian Christmas is a pretty good idea.

woman putting plates on table
Colombia celebrates Christmas differently than America does and they put more emphasis on family bonding and religion.

Colombia’s Christmas is all about family and prioritizing religion. If you go to Colombia and experience their Christmas tradition, you will find yourself having difficulty not going back next year.

And here are the reasons why.

Día de las Velitas or “Little Candles’ Day”

On December 7th, the day of the Immaculate Conception, Colombians put candles on their streets and just about on every surface they can find. They light them up at night to mark the start of Christmas. The night glows with warm light because of the candles and lanterns that the locals set up to start off the evening.

Afterwards, they set off fireworks, lighting up the night sky just as they lit up the ground. Locals will watch from their homes, either from the windows and balconies or they step out of the houses to be right where the colors and warmth are.

There is also music to dance to. It’s not just the noise of the fireworks display that reaches everyone’s ears. You can dance under the lights with your partner or family or friends, traipsing over the candles and lanterns, and enjoy the night.

If you’re not used to this type of thing, you’ll most likely think this entire night is a magical fever dream. The colors, the music and the people laughing while just enjoying themselves will let you believe everything isn’t real, especially when you wake up the next day.

Nativity Scenes

a nativity scene
You will see plenty of nativity scenes and other religious decorations in Colombia’s streets and malls.

Christmas in Colombia will make the country look like Bethlehem. And this is due to the nativity scenes that they plaster at every home and in public places. Also, since they take these decorations seriously, you can bet that they go all out in reiterating the birth of Christ.

Christmas is the day Jesus was born. Colombians, religious as they are, treat this holiday as one where they could revere Christ in festivities. They will make these nativity scenes in order to be reminded that Christmas isn’t just for them to spend their money and have fun.

Christmas is when they can pray, have masses and show their appreciation for what has been given to them. It’s all very religious and therefore very important to them.

Their effort in making the country look like Bethlehem makes Colombia very picture perfect. The nativity scenes, coupled with what they can do with Christmas lights, make for a very colorful vacation. It brings cheer to everyone around, which is the whole point. The holidays are for everyone so every single Colombian pitches in to make Christmas lovely.

Fun Fact: Christmas lights are a very big deal in Colombia. You’ll see just how serious they are about it if you go to the city parks and the Medellin River.

Aguinaldos, Colombia’s Gift-Giving Culture

Streets of the Old City.
It’s as much of a tradition in Colombia to give each other presents as it is with the rest of the world.

Aguinaldos is what Colombia calls the challenges and games they do that end on Christmas Eve. And during Christmas Eve, they give each other presents.

Colombians love to make their friends, families and co-workers work for the presents and treats, which they attribute to their sense of humor.

The Aguinaldos, the games, consists of Tres Pies or Three Feet wherein you have to try and place your foot in between your opponent’s feet. Another one is called Pajita en Boca or Straw in the Mouth. You have to keep the straw in your mouth all day in order to win this one. Then there’s Stolen Kiss or Beso Robado. You can probably guess the context about that.

And yes, these games can get pretty wild and chaotic once started. It’s fun, it’s insane but all in all, an experience you just have to have. And if you get presents in the end, all the better.

The Festive Food

a table filled with food during Christmas
Christmas isn’t Christmas without the feast called Noche Buena.

Latin Christmas is all about food because of the Noche Buena. Colombia is no different, having so many staples that lay on their Christmas dinner. Colombian Christmas food consists of the following:

Come and Visit Colombia for the Holidays!

Experience what it’s like to be a Colombian local during the holiday season! Come with your family or your lover-- it doesn’t matter which. Colombia during Christmas might just be the one thing you need to enjoy the holidays!

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