Yes, there are lights of many colors and a different topic each year over the Medellín River as well as in the main cities in Colombia. However, Christmas in this country is far more than that.
As any other country in Latin America, in Colombia most of traditions have a deep religious origin. Everything stars on the 30th November, when at midnight fireworks are released announcing that the best time during the year just began: Christmas.
The celebration continues on the 7th with “El día de las velitas”, The Day of the Candles, when everybody light skinny candles on the streets to commemorate the Virgin Mary.
A week and a day later, on the 16th, the “Novena de Aguinaldos” starts. During these nine days, the family gathers around the crib to narrate the Mary and Joseph’s pilgrimage. Almost always the novenas rotate from one home to another and everybody brings a dish to share. These days are more than just time to pray, they are time to spend with the family, friends and beloved ones.
On the 24th, the family gathers again to share a dinner and to exchange presents before midnight, because this is the time when the baby Jesus comes with the gifts to the kids. How does the little baby Jesus know what kids want? It’s quite easy since kids always write a letter describing what they prefer to get.
For all these moments the Colombian cuisine has many specialities.
“Buñuelos” are cheesy fritters and unlike other countries those ones are always salty. Usually we eat them with “natilla”, which is made of corn, milk and sugar; some people used to add cloves and cinnamon. We also eat empanadas, a fried dough stuffed with potatoes and/ or meat. Very delicious! Another well known dessert is “el postre de tres leches”, three milk dessert, made of three kinds of milk and sugar. In other cities, especially at the Atlantic cost people eat “arroz con coco” which in English is coconut rice pudding.
Regarding drinks we have some options like aguardiente, rum, beer, champagne and wine; nonetheless aguardiente, an anise and powerful drink, is the most traditional.
As Christmas is the best time to share, many organizations and media promote different campaigns which aim is to make unfortunate people happy. Among the most successful ones we have: “Campaña soldado herido”, that helps solders injured in combat; and “Regala Sonrisas” that gives new toys to the poor kids.