Are you ready to hear about a cultural experience?!
In 1854 Pope Pius IX ruled that Mary (you know, Jesus’ mom) was also born of a virgin birth. People all over the world showed belief and solidarity in this idea by lighting candles and this tradition has continued in Colombia each year on December 7th, or Día de las Velitas.
Now that you understand where this post is going we are going to have a little pause so I can tell you a funny story.
In case you didn’t know, I’m not a fluent Spanish speaker. And even though I just completed six months of lessons, I still make all kinds of crazy mistakes. As we were discussing the holiday in class, I misunderstood the word for velitas (little candles) with vuelas, which I mistook for vuelo, or flight. So, I began putting the rest of the pieces together on my own and proceeded to tell several people about a Colombian holiday which celebrates the flight of the Virgin Mary around the world, with all these candles lighting her way. Oops.
We finally got on the right page with the significance of the day and found out that in Colombia, the 7th is also the unofficial start of the Christmas season. By this time, there are scads of lights (please look forward to our nighttime Ciclovía post) in every park and major road in the city. Also, each night there are vendors out selling mazorca asada (grilled corn), obleas (wafers with dulce de leche in the middle) and canelazo (like warm cider, but made with passion fruit juice and aguardiente).
Thanks to some very kind advice from my pal Darleen, we headed into Parque Virrey around 7:30 this past Sunday to light our candles. Accompanying us were some new friends who are here for a six-month work assignment. Check out our photos of the festivities below.