December 4, 2022
Festivals are universally-shared celebrations of life, and they are as diverse as the people of our beautiful planet. In celebration of the festival traditions that bring us together, we would like to share with you the experiences of several of our LifeWays family this year, all from different walks of life and spiritual traditions.
Today, we are so pleased to welcome back our friend and colleague, Marielle Sestier to share about the traditional Colombian holiday of Dia de las Velitas, or the Day of the Little Candles. Marielle is co-founder of LifeWays America Latina, an organization providing an offering of LifeWays North America in Spanish.
“Velitas” (Little candles) – a Colombian reverence to light.
As I mentioned in previous articles, I am French and Mexican. One and a half years ago, I moved to Colombia with my husband and our two children under six. We found a house in a small town called Cajicá, close to Bogota, surrounded by the presence, strength, and magic of the (surprisingly cold) Andes mountains.
Reflecting on my life one year ago, I am surprised about how hard the transition was. And now I am grateful to see and embrace some of the gifts mother nature, very present in those the magical Andes, has for me. It has been a year, full of inner work and deep, meaningful transformation.
Before changing countries, I had many assumptions about Colombia; one of them was that we were “sister nations” and everything was going to be very similar to Mexico. I was so wrong! There are so many enriching and beautiful differences! Today I would like to share a very special celebration: Velitas, meaning Little Candles, happening on the night of December 7th.
A little note to our Colombian readers, this is a testimonial from a Mexican living in Colombia only for one year. I am thrilled to write a little bit of what I sensed, and how the party captivated me so much that I decided to include it in my family culture. My hope is to share some general ideas about this luminous celebration. If you have additional resources or testimonials, please share in the comments. We are always delighted to connect.
Last year, I noticed a big fuss when the 7th of December approached. More traffic jams than usual and rush in the air. I wondered what was happening and asked the community in the school that my children attend about “Velitas” and was informed that it was THE COLOMBIAN party by reference, a moment of joy and celebration, the beginning of Christmas.
I was really surprised; in Mexico it is not celebrated. I could relate it with “La fête de Lumière” happening in Lyon, France, that I had the opportunity to experience on several occasions, but I did not understand the connection. When it was super clear that this was a celebration of light, my heart started beating quickly. I love all festivities related to light around the globe.
To sum it up, it is holiday tradition based on lighting candles on the night of December 7th to celebrate the proclamation of the Immaculate Conception by Pope Pius IX at the Vatican in Rome on December 8, 1854. Many Colombian acquaintances mention that it is beautiful because it mixes pre-Hispanics, Catholic and Judaic beliefs.
It is a day to gather with relatives and neighbors. The main activity is to light little candles with intention (making a wish, being grateful etc.) in front of the home door or in the windows. Simple, beautiful, and powerful. A whole nation light candles on the same night sharing gratefulness and kindness.
I am happy to share some ideas for creating this party at home with the Living Arts:
Try making some of the traditional Colombian Velitas food.
Here you have a recipe of Natilla, a Colombian custard. This recipe from Galia of Baby loves food is absolutely delicious.
On December 7th, Gather with your family, light some candles on display in front of your door, house, or window, and send your wishes off into the night in a loud voice.
You can write them down in a “Family golden book” or do a little “parchment” to decorate your tree with gratitude and wishes.
¡Make your own candles!
We are delighted to share this lovely song for the season, sung by the beautiful voice of Zury Hernandez.
Ven Luz con Divino Silencio
Ilumina nuestro Hogar
Ilumina nuestros corazones
Uno a uno con cariño
“Come Light with your Divine light
Illuminate our home
Illuminate our hearts
One by one with love”
If you would like to deepen your knowledge of this festival and your Spanish is good, please listen to THIS podcast.
Diana Uribe´s work is wonderful. She has shared traditions and festivities around Colombia in order to strengthen a sense of belonging to a Nation, and all the festivities culminate with Velitas.
Finally, I am delighted to share a testimonial from a Colombian friend:
“Velitas es-para mi- el día más bello de año. Es el inicio de la navidad, el momento de estar en familia, de soñar, pedir deseos e intencionar lo que se viene. Cuando vivía afuera del país se convirtió en mi ritual al que cada vez fui uniendo a más y más amigos que más allá de lo religioso, es siempre un momento de paz y tranquilidad”
“Velitas for me is the most beautiful day of the year. It is the beginning of Christmas, a moment to gather with family, to dream, make wishes and manifest intentions. When I lived abroad, I make It my ritual, gathering more and more friends each time, above the religious side, this is a moment of peace and calm”
We would love to hear from you and connect! Is Velitas a new festival for you? Would you be willing to include it in your family culture?
We invite you to light a candle on the evening of December 7th and add more light, wishes, gratitude, and intention to the world. Wishing you all a luminous journey in this period of darkness.
***The pictures I have included were kindly shared by families of Kalapa, Comunidad Educativa. Thank you!***