We’re heading south today and taking a trip to Colombia, the only country in South America with coastlines on the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea!
First of the Month, First of the Celebrations
The Colombian city of Medellin unofficially welcomes the holiday season beginning at the stroke of midnight to signal December 1st!
Thousands of fireworks are set off around the city over the span of minutes.
While this tradition only began in the early 2000s, it is still alive and thriving to this day!
Candles of a National Celebration
December 7th marks the official beginning of Christmas in Colombia, as this is the national holiday Dia de las Velitas (Day of the Little Candles)!
Families take to the streets to light hundreds of little candles and place them on their balconies and outside their homes.
This is believed to light the path for the Virgin Mary as she arrives to bless homes around the country.
While this view creates a calming and relaxing atmosphere, this later gives turns into a night of parties, dancing, drinking and fireworks!
And on the Ninth Day of Christmas...
By the time December 16th rolls around, it is time to celebrate Las Novenas!
For the nine nights leading up to Christmas, families and friends gather in each other’s homes (although this will likely look different this year), to enjoy traditional prayers, foods, songs and other activities that vary by family!
The final night of Las Novenas on December 24th leads into the celebrations at midnight to commemorate the birth of Jesus.
Once the clock strikes midnight to turn the 24th to the 25th, el Nino Dios (baby Jesus) gifts the children their holiday presents and the festivities keep on rolling!
As the parties continue into the wee hours of the morning on December 25th, this day is a public holiday and a quieter time for families to gather and relax.
April Fool’s Day - In December!
Dia de Los Inocentes, the Holy Innocents Day is the Colombian version of April Fool’s Day and takes place just three days later on December 28th!
To get others back into the celebrating spirit, people will pull pranks and play practical jokes on each other. This is done to try to amuse each other and themselves while providing an overall morale boost to get ready for the New Years’!
It is important to remember that any time someone falls for a prank, you must say “feliz Dia de los Inocentes” (Happy Holy Innocents Day)!
Don’t Forget Your Grapes!
New Years’ Eve follows suit just a few days later on December 31st and one Colombian tradition is to eat 12 grapes as the clock strikes midnight.
Yes, grapes! One grape is eaten per chime and you are to make a wish as you enjoy each grape. One piece of advice that I’ve heard: try to have seedless grapes!
Here are some other fun Colombian traditions for celebrating New Year’s:
One interesting note is that if someone chooses to head out to the local nightclubs or parties after enjoying the company of your family with dinner and drinks, it tends to be after midnight!
Talk about bringing in the New Year on a high note!
Star Power of Christmas Dinner
Before baby Jesus arrives at midnight to deliver presents, Colombians enjoy a delicious late-night dinner.
Lechona is the savoury main dish that takes centre stage! The entire pork is filled with a pea-and-rice stuffing, with alternatives to this dish being ham or turkey.
Two popular side dishes include tamales or ajiaco, a hearty chicken and potato soup.
While the main feast is scrumptious, the real stars of Christmas food are the desserts!
Natilla, a custard dessert, is one of the most popular dishes and is usually paired with Buñuelos, some deep fried cheeseballs!
Arroz con leche is another popular dessert dish consisting of rice cooked in sugary milk, topped with raisins and cinnamon.
Hojuelas, fried pastries served hot and sprinkled with sugar, and manjar blanco, a milky spread of milk, rice and sugar, round out the list of some of the most popular Colombian Christmas desserts!
Highlight of the Holidays
While the parties are fun, the pranks are funny and the food is delicious, this is not the sole focal point of the holidays.
As the country has a large Catholic population, celebrating the birth of Jesus is behind all of the celebrations that take place throughout the country.
The celebration of Christmas is second only to Easter in terms of religious significance in Colombia.
Colombia and Road Coffee
Like all of our products, Road Coffee prides itself on our hand-crafted coffee and deep relationships with farmers in developing countries.
Our delicious full-bodied Colombian medium roast has a juicy, berry-infused taste that will knock your socks off with it’s lively and enjoyable flavour!
We also offer Colombian decaf roast to the heroes of the industry, who are in it for the taste of great coffee! This clean cup of coffee has tastes of rose, berry and honey that will really make your taste buds happy.
Author Jordan Calladine