Christmas traditions can vary all around the world, but celebrating the holidays outside of your own country, or 3,000 miles away from the rest of your family can be overwhelming and a different experience. During the holidays, many of us realize the importance of keeping our traditions in order to build strong family relationships that will then be passed on to future generations. In my beautiful country, Colombia, Christmas celebrations start on December 7, a day known as “El Dia De Las Velitas” or “Day of the little candles.” Everyone in the neighborhood will get up really early to decorate their homes, paint Christmas ornaments in the streets, and light up the city with candles in the evening. Our second tradition starts on December 16th and continues through the 24th, where we come together as a family to invite our friends, neighbors and even strangers to take part in what it’s called “La Novena.” At the “Novenas” people sing Christmas carols and pray in front of the Nativity Scene. At the end of each night, the host of the Novena hands out plenty of food such as Buñuelos, Empanadas, Arepas or Natillas. On Christmas Day, most people go to church in the morning, get things set up in the afternoon and then at night, everyone gathers outside to start celebrating until the following day. Our typical Christmas meal is “Lechona” which is a fried pork stuffed with rice, turkey, ham and sometimes peas.
Writing this blog has made me realize how much I miss my roots. Although it has been way too long since my family and I have celebrated a Christmas in Colombia with the rest of our family, here we always do our best to keep some of those traditions alive.