Little Candles Day in Colombia Date in the current year: December 7, 2024

Little Candles Day in Colombia Little Candles Day (Día de las velitas) is a popular traditional holiday in Colombia, celebrated throughout the country. It is observed on December 7, on the eve of the Immaculate Conception. The Day of the Little Candles unofficially kicks off the holiday season in Colombia.

On December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX promulgated his apostolic constitution titled Ineffabilis Deus (“Ineffable God”) that defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which states that she was conceived free of original sin. In anticipation of this announcement, Catholic all over the world lit candles and paper lanterns to demonstrate their belief in the idea of the Immaculate Conception.

After that, the Catholic Church of Colombia decided to keep the tradition and light candles and paper lanterns on the eve of the Immaculate Conception, which is a public holiday in Colombia, every year. People put candles and lanterns on their windowsills, balconies and porches so that everyone can see them. Sidewalks, streets, squares and parks of Colombian cities and towns are filled with burning candles and lanterns, too.

Little Candles Day is celebrated throughout the country, but many regions and cities of Columbia have their own specific tradition, For example, the municipality of Quimbaya has hosted the annual Candles and Lanterns Festival (Fiesta Nacional del Concurso de Alumbrados con Velas y Faroles) since 1982. Each of the neighborhoods prepares spectacular lighting displays that attract tourists from all over the country.

In the Department of Quindío, people often place small puma statuettes next to their candles or lanterns. The Christmas Puma (el puma de Navidad) is a holiday symbol that emerged when beliefs of the Quimbaya civilization blended with Catholic traditions brought by the Spanish. The Quimbaya people believed that fire warded off pumas and other vultures; this belief was combined with the Catholic tradition of lighting candles of the eve of the Immaculate Conceptions, and now pumas are associated with Little Candles Day and Christmas.

In the Colombian capital of Bogotá, Little Candles Day kicks off the Christmas season. The city is fully decorated at this point, and many families spend the evening out and about admiring the lighting arrangements and watching live nativity scenes, caroling concerts and other outdoor shows. Stores, shopping malls, museums, and other public places typically extend their working hours on December 7.

In the Caribbean region of Columbia (the departments of Atlántico, Bolívar, Cesar, Córdoba, La Guajira, Madgalena, San Andrés and Providencia, and Sucre), it is customary to light candles and lanterns before sunrise on December 8. Because of this, many people stay up all night celebrating with their family and friends, and light the candles in the wee hours of the morning, before going to sleep.

In some regions, Little Candles Day is the day when people make the first buñuelos of the Christmas season. A buñuelo is a donut-type fritter, popular in Spanish-speaking countries. Colombian buñuelos are usually made with cottage cheese and served along with manjar blanco and natillas.

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Little Candles Day in Colombia, Day of the Little Candles, holidays in Colombia, traditional holidays, Immaculate Conception