Day of the Candles

Fake Christmas trees, life-sized reindeer, and ornate nativity scenes have stocked the aisles at Homecenter since October. The parks in Bogota have been decorated with giant snowflakes and disco balls for more than a month. There’s even a fake bunny slope in the mall where children can zip line to the bottom.

But, according to my Colombian friends, the past couple months have only been preparation for the real Christmas season, which didn’t officially start until this past Friday, on Día de las Velitas.

Translating to “Day of the Candles,” Día de las Velitas is one of the most observed holidays in Colombia. It’s the eve of the Immaculate Conception, which is the day Catholics believe the Virgin Mary was conceived and kept free of original sin. To honor Mary, people place candles and paper lanterns on their balconies, windowsills, and in parks and squares.

Here are some pictures from what was going on in Parque Virrey and Parque 93:

Like most Colombian holidays, it was a family celebration, full of warmth and happiness. And despite not being Catholic, the day of candles brought a smile to my face, and made it feel like Christmas.

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