A Peek into a Colombian Kitchen

After having been in many different Colombian homes, and specifically, Colombian kitchens, it has come to my attention that nearly all kitchens here have a few staples, so I’m going to share with you the ones I have consistently noticed.  Continue reading

Colombian Christmas Traditions Day 8

**Every night for the nine nights before Christmas Colombians celebrate novenas, so I will be writing a blog post every day about Colombian Christmas traditions. Feliz Navidad!**

Sofia Vergara in "Undeck the Halls"

Today, the eighth day of novenas, is going to be a really short post. It’s almost Christmas, and things are getting busy! What I wanted to share with you today, Dear Reader, is actually a Modern Family episode. One of the main characters on the show is a Colombian woman played by Sofia Vergara, who is a famous Colombian actress. In the Christmas episode called Undeck the Halls from the first season, she talks a lot about different Colombian Christmas traditions and is trying to bring the traditions to her American family. It’s a good episode and talks about many of the traditions I have in my novenas posts. Here is a link to the episode:

Modern Family Colombian Christmas Traditions

Hope you enjoy it!

Colombian Christmas Traditions Day 6

**Every night for the nine nights before Christmas Colombians celebrate novenas, so I will be writing a blog post every day about Colombian Christmas traditions. Feliz Navidad!**

Back for another day of Colombian Christmas Traditions! Today, the sixth day of novenas, I will be talking about aguinaldos. The literal English translation of aguinaldos differs because it can mean different things in different countries, but in this case it refers to games played during novenasContinue reading

Colombian Christmas Traditions Day 4

**Every night for the nine nights before Christmas Colombians celebrate novenas, so I will be writing a blog post every day about Colombian Christmas traditions. Feliz Navidad!**

An important part of the novenas is the villancicos, or Christmas carols, that are sung every night. Villancicos are quite different from the typical Christmas carols we sing in English. There are no “Jingle Bells” or “Deck the Halls;” the carols sung in Colombia are all more religiously focused, mostly on Mary and baby Jesus.

Villancicos are rooted in Spanish Catholic history and the tradition carried over to Latin America, with some changes, of course. Composers of villancicos came from many different Latin American countries, including Colombia. Some of the most well-known villancicos are Tutaina, Los Peces en el Río, Las Campanas de Belén, and Mi Burrito Sabanero. You can listen to Tutaina in the video above.

In Colombia villancicos are most commonly sung during novenas, when family and friends gather around the pesebre, or nativity scene. People also bring different musical instruments such as panderetas, tambourines, and claves to accompany the singing. If you want to listen to the other villancicos, they are all on YouTube!

Colombian Christmas Traditions Day 2

**Every night for the nine nights before Christmas Colombians celebrate novenas, so I will be writing a blog post every day about Colombian Christmas traditions. Feliz Navidad!**

Today is December 17, the second day of novenas, and my second of nine bog posts about Colombian Christmas traditions.

There are many foods that are traditionally eaten around Christmastime in Colombia. My personal favorite is buñuelos. Buñuelos are a delicious dough ball with cheese and are fried, so they’re nice and crispy on the outside but soft and fluffy on the inside.

Buñuelos

Natilla and paneton are typical Christmas desserts. Natilla is a cake with a texture a bit like flan and the primary ingredients are milk, panela, and cornstarch. People often make it with arequipe as well. Paneton is a more traditional cake, baked in a round form with a hole in the middle, and is usually made with dried fruits or chocolate chips.

Natilla

Paneton

The traditional Colombian family Christmas meal is served on Christmas Eve, and the main dish is turkey. Pretty much the only time you can find turkey in Colombia is around Christmastime.

Traditional drinks, which can be found all year round but are even more prevalent at Christmastime, are canelazo and hot chocolate. Canelazo is agua de panela with a shot of aguardiente and a bit of lime and sugar, and sometimes cinnamon as well. It is delicious and will warm you up right away. Hot chocolate is the same as anywhere else, but in Colombia people often melt cheese in the hot chocolate and then eat it or dip their bread in the hot chocolate.

Canelazo

Tomorrow I will have recipes for all of the foods mentioned today!

Beginning of Novenas

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.

Sundays at Usaquén

Ciclovía in Bogotá

We always try to wake up early on Sundays in time for ciclovía, Bogotá’s bike path on one of the main streets that is closed to cars from 7 am to 2 pm. Usually we walk, instead of riding bikes, about 45 blocks to a little borough of Bogotá called Usaquén. Continue reading

Happy Love and Friendship Day!

Today is the Día de Amor y Amistad, or in English, Love and Friendship Day. It’s the Colombian version of Valentine’s Day, but instead of being just for couples or lovers or crushes, it’s also about friends. It is celebrated every year on the third weekend of September.

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Too close?

I mentioned briefly in my last post the difference of the lack of personal space here. This, I believe, is a very big difference. In Colombia, people live with their families until they get married, which is generally not until their late twenties-early thirties. In the States, we’re outta there at the age of eighteen. (Maybe not financially, depending, but out of our parents’ houses as soon as we are able.) To me, this speaks a lot about the individualism of the US versus the family- and community-oriented culture of Colombia, and Latin America in general.

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