Day of the Little Candles: a Colombian Christmas tradition

Día de las Velitas

Día de Velitas, or in English, Day of the Little Candles, is celebrated each year on December 7th and is the official start of Christmas. It’s a celebration full of happiness and light that you do not want to miss.

Everyone loves Christmas, but Colombians take this holiday to another level! In Colombia, we have our own Christmas carols, unique decorations, and many celebrations besides Christmas day,  like “Día de las Velitas” (Day of the Candles) which we celebrate on December 7th. Do you want to know how we celebrate this day? Just keep reading, you will find all the information you need to enjoy this holiday.

Origin and meaning   

The origin of this celebration is religious, like many Colombian celebrations, because of its Catholic tradition. December 7th is the vigil of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary that is celebrated on December 8th.

On the evening of the 7th, families and friends gather to light candles (normally candles of all colors) and lanterns at home, in parks, shopping centers, and offices all over the city. The lighting of the candles (velitas) symbolizes the wishes we ask for ourselves and our family. It is a moment to reflect, give thanks, and think about our first wishes of the Christmas festivities.

At these gatherings, once the candles are lit and the wishes are sent, people take the opportunity to spend time with their relatives and friends, drink “canelazo“, or some other type of traditional drink, eat the Christmas delicacies (buñuelos, natilla, tamales), and plan all the meetings that will be held the rest of the month, thanks to the novenas (another Colombian tradition in December).

Where we celebrate  

This is the day in which the district lights the public Christmas lights of the city, in different streets, parks, shopping centers, and typical places of the capital. A lot of families, tourists, and many citizens gather around these places, instead of in their houses, to wait for the moment when Bogotá begins to shine with Christmas lights.

Some of the places you could visit in Bogotá to fully experience this day are: Plaza Simón Bolivar, the iconic square in the center of the city, Torre Colpatria one of the tallest and most emblematic buildings in the city that normally makes a light show, Parque Nacional, Parque de la 93, and some shopping malls like Andino, Santa Bárbara and Unicentro. In all of these places, you will witness the moment when the Christmas lights are officially lit, you will light your own candles, make your wishes, and enjoy Christmas carols!

It is a very beautiful and emotional moment that brings those who experience it closer together and I believe it would light the Christmas spirit even in the Grinch! So be sure not to miss this celebration for any reason!

You will love this day in Bogotá

The Day of the Candles is the perfect opportunity for you to experience the love that Colombians have for Christmas, symbolically ask for your wishes, see and enjoy Bogotá as it can only be done in December, get closer to the people you know or meet new people in the city (for sure you will end up with a Colombian friend), and try all the Christmas delicacies. Sounds good right?

For other Christmas traditions, read our article about our own version of Santa Claus here.

Have you ever been to Bogotá? Come and enjoy this day here, you will not regret it, and go to our website to find out about all the other Christmas traditions you can’t miss when you come to Bogotá.

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