Please forgive the potentially politically incorrect notion that a culture’s traditions could be considered ‘unusual’ – especially coming from someone who will teach his children that a fat, bearded old man from the North Pole who rides in on a sleigh pulled by flying reindeers will bring them their presents. And we have a Queen, I’m told that’s weird.
But, with that said, there are some customs here in Colombia during the Christmas period that I struggle to get my head around, or that I think are particularly cool. Here’s my top 5.
La Noche de Las Velitas
Mix candlelight, drink, music and tenderness and you might think I’m talking about a romantic meal for two. In fact, all over Colombia on the 7th of December people take to the streets, place candles on the ground and come together in the spirit of family, community and merriment. You know Christmas has started after this night. Lovely stuff.
Coming from the UK where Christmas has lost much of its religious flavour, this one is strange for me since it’s so firmly rooted in Catholic traditions. As far as I’m aware, Las Novenas happen all over the Spanish-speaking, Catholic world. Basically, it’s a period of nine days before Christmas when families come together, eat, drink and pray. Again, it’s the real sense of togetherness and community that makes this tradition special, and it’s very strong in Colombia.
On New Years Eve it’s tradition to wear yellow underwear. Don’t ask – I have no idea.
A bit like Guy Fawkes night in the UK, the idea of Año Viejo is basically to burn a model of a person. A full-size doll is made and clothed in some old rags and then taken out and burnt on the 31st of December
New Year’s Eve at Midnight Run Around With a Bag on and Eat 12 Grapes
No more needs to be said about this one. Just… Bizarre.