Today is December 16, and in Colombia, on this day begins the Christmas tradition of novenas. Every night for the nine nights before Christmas, Colombians celebrate novenas, and so I will be writing a blog post every day about Colombian Christmas traditions. Happy Holidays!
So what are novenas? Literally the word means “ninths,” for the nine days of celebration before Christmas. From December 16 – December 24, family and friends gather in a different person’s home each night to eat traditional Colombian Christmas food, sing Christmas carols in front of the nativity set (in Spanish, pesebre), and drink traditional holiday beverages.
Novenas are traditionally a religious custom; the nine days are symbolic of Mary’s pregnancy with Jesus, and families gather to pray in front of the nativity scene. Some families continue this tradition, but also, especially for younger people, novenas are a time to gather together, eat, and drink.