It’s that time of year again—now that Thanksgiving is over, you’ve surely noticed the deluge of Christmas decorations and discounts that has descended over shopping centers across the country. The seasonal traditions of Black Friday shopping, evergreen tree searching, and bringing the kids for a picture with Santa are so ingrained that they’re almost second nature. While in Latin America not all of these same traditions exist, each country has their own unique and sometimes quite surprising customs—some of which have even made their way back stateside. Here are some ways that the traditions countries south of the border are known for as they prepare to celebrate Christmas.
In Colombia, the Christmas celebrations get started earlier than in most places with El Día de las Velitas (the Day of the Little Candles) on December 7. The tradition dates back to 1854 when Pope Pius IX declared the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary to be official dogma of the Catholic Church. While the religious significance is strong, there is no shortage of celebration around this time to kick off the Christmas season with so many lights dotting Colombia’s calles.