On the night of December 7, every year in Colombia, across towns, cities and country-sides, people go into the streets filling them with lights… millions of candles, in fact. This is how they celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the virgin Mary.
It is a very colourful affair. Multicoloured candles and lanterns decorate the night, making December 7 a magical beginning to the Christmas season. This tradition also celebrates the appearance of the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary, when he announced that she was to be the mother of Jesus.
Some say that from the first night in 1854, when it was proclaimed by Pope Pius IX that Catholics should celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception, believers from around the world lit candles to celebrate. The tradition of lighting up has been maintained.
It is also another example of religious syncretism. The indigenous of the Quindío Department of Colombia believed in the Quimbayan Panther. When the Spanish colonialists arrived in the region during the late 1850s, they brought their tradition of using candlelight to celebrate the Immaculate Conception. This was combined with the Quimbaya belief that fire could protect against panther attacks as pumas and other native animals were believed to fear fire. Thus, the belief in the Quimbayan Christmas Panther evolved and this developed into the Quimbayan holiday known as the Alumbrado de Navidad (which is essentially the feast of the Immaculate Conception).
In Columbia, which has a large Catholic population, the feast is celebrated in grand style. Families celebrate well into the night with food, fun and lights. It is also a great tourist attraction. Thankfully, December 8th is a holiday in Columbia.
More Christmas in Colombia
Over at “One Dream” Wendy has been posting about various Christmas traditions from around the world. I’m sharing with you today her post on Christmas in Colombia. I told you about the buñuelos that are a favoured foodie tradition there, and now you can read more about other Colombian Christmas favourites such as the Día de las Velitas, Novena de Aguinaldos and the Cena de Navidad.
Head over to One Dream now to find out more.
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