In Colombia, celebrations and Christmas preparations begin on the evening of December 7, which is known as “Velitas Day” or “Small Candles Day”.
The houses and streets are decorated with candles, lanterns and many lights. There are also great fireworks displays and music to dance and meals like ‘buñuelos’ and ’empanadas’. This day is celebrated by Catholics around the world as The Feast of the Immaculate Conception, but it is especially popular in Colombia.
From December 16 until Christmas Eve, many Colombians participate in the “novenas“. These are special times when family, friends and neighbors gather to pray in the days leading up to Christmas. They are known as the ‘Novena de Aguinaldos’ (Christmas Novena) and, often, a different house organizes the meeting every night. In addition to prayers, people sing Christmas carols and eat many delicious foods.
People like to decorate their houses with Christmas trees and other decorations. It is very common to have candles (usually red and white) and other lights that show on windows or balconies. Another important Christmas decoration in Colombia is a nativity scene or ‘the manger’. In early December, children write a “Letter to the Child God” (letter to the child Jesus) asking what gifts they would like to receive. The letter is placed in the manger. They expect Jesus to bring them gifts on Christmas Eve.
The main Christmas dinner is eaten on Christmas Eve and is called ‘Christmas Dinner’. Dishes often include the lechona (pork stuffed with rice and peas), ham, turkey or a chicken soup called Ajiaco Bogotá. Other popular foods around Christmas are ‘Buñuelos’ (fritters with cheese), arepas (a thick dish made of corn) and ‘flakes’ (a fried pasta with sugar and jam). A very popular Christmas dessert is ‘Natilla’, which is a pastry cream.
After the Christmas meal, many people will go to a Midnight Mass service. Some people stay up all night, so Christmas day is a day to relax and eat the leftovers.
On December 28, people celebrate the Day of the Innocents, which is like the Day of the Innocents, with many jokes and fun. Television stations often show mistakes and funny mistakes that people have made the previous year.