Christmas in Colombia: ‘Little Candles Day’

| Bas Leijser

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Yet, each corner of the world celebrates this holiday a bit differently. In this series we will shed some light on Christmas traditions of UT international students. In this episode we meet with Daniel Poveda, Civil Engineering student from Colombia.

Could you tell us something about Christmas in your country?

‘Christmas in Colombia is the most festive time of the year. The whole month of December is the happiest! The fact that we do not have any seasons like winter, summer, autumn, and spring, makes it easy to celebrate outdoors and watch the beautiful Christmas lights that decorate the Colombian cities. Christmas is, of course, a religious celebration in Colombia, but overall it is about sharing with friends and family, and the time when ‘Baby Jesus’ (not Santa!) gives presents to the little ones.’

What is a unique Christmas tradition in your country?

‘On the 7th and 8th of December, we celebrate El día de las velitas (the little candles day), on which people go out on the streets to light candles. Originally this was in honour of Virgin Mary but now it is just a tradition, regardless of religious beliefs. Also, from the 16th to the 24th of December, families or friends gather to do the Novenas, which are meetings where people do some prayers, eat traditional Christmas food, and sing Christmas carols (or Villancicos).’

What do you expect from a Dutch Christmas?

‘I expect different food and a different atmosphere in general. But, I think the meaning of Christmas is a global thing, so I know that it will also be a time of sharing with the people who are close to me here. I expect good food and a good time.’

How are you going to celebrate Christmas this year?

‘I will celebrate an early Christmas with my flatmates, having a nice big Christmas dinner. But I will celebrate the actual Christmas having a nice cosy dinner with my girlfriend, who is also from Colombia but lives in the Netherlands.’