In colombia, we take the Holidays seriously. Sure, we don't have huge Thanksgiving parades or Black Friday, but we sure enjoy the festivities in our own special ways, and among the many traditions one of my favorites, since I was little, was The Day of the Little Candles (Día de las Velitas). This tradition is rooted in the Catholic faith, as it is a celebration of the feast of immaculate conception. But I'm not going to talk about religion here. As I come close to finishing my undergraduate in the US, I haven't had the chance to go back home in a while.

Yesterday, I felt especially homesick because on the eve of December 7 me and my family would go out and watch our neighbors create a candle-lit path outside their houses. We would blast Christmas songs and sing along, but most importantly: we would be together.

Here are a few things that made Día de las Velitas special for me

Let's start with the moment when our parents would get about 40 candles for us to go out and light them up. There were all different colors and my brother and I would often fight to get the best ones. Obviously, our fight wouldn't take long since my mother would often take the candle packets away from our hands. As nighttime approach we would get our jackets (Yes, in Bogotá it's cold), our set of candles, and meet our neighbors outside of our apartment building.

Now, this was before we moved to a house, so we had to light up our candles on the stairs of our building and in the parking lot. Our dad would often meet us outside after work, and sitting on the stairs was this lady who every year got her radio out and played Christmas songs. Then it was on.

Our mother would light up the first candle, would put some candle wax on the brick and the candle would stand perfectly upright.

It was perfect, so off course when we tried it didn't work. At some point in the night we were finally able to stand the candles straight, but our happiness was short-lived as it was time for bed. Other times we would go to our grandmother's house and light lanterns (Farolitos) along with the candles.

As we moved to our new house the traditions changed.

We no longer had the adorable radio lady, but on the bright side we would light up our candles in our small garden, with our neighbors doing the same. We would leave our door open so we could hear the music and left the Christmas lights on, and once we got all of our candles light up we would go and check out the other houses.

In some of them they let us in to admire their decorations, others looked like the Grinch stole and hid all the lights. After looking at the houses, we'd go to the common area to enjoy one of my favorite Christmas beverages; the Canelázo. This glorious drink is made of panela (unrefined sugar cane), herbs that to this day I have no idea what they are, and for the grown-ups, aguardiente.

Different traditions

I'm sure that different Colombian families have different traditions, but it doesn't take away from the fact that any tradition is better with those you love most. So, my message is to simply enjoy whatever it is that makes you feel loved and cherished, and that makes you forget whatever problems you might have. Take time to reminisce about those moments that made you feel better even when everything around you seemed bleak.