Christmas in Colombia is unlike any other Christmas celebration I have ever seen around the world.
Colombia is a Catholic country and Christmas is a religious celebration of the birth of baby Jesus. However, Christmas in Colombia is celebrated through the whole December not only with prayers but with lots of parties, food and the unique happiness that characterizes Colombian people.
The celebration starts the 30th of November when the “Christmas lights” (alumbrados navideños) are turned on in the big cities. My city, Medellin, has the most beautiful and popular Christmas lights in the whole country.
It’s not just lights, it is a magnificent array of Christmas themed lights that adorn the Medellin river and its surroundings from the 30th of December until the 9th of January. Additionally, the pedestrian ways are filled with vendors selling everything from corn on the cob to toys for children.
Of course, it is an event that no one in the city wants to miss and that attracts tourists from all over the world.
On the first of December, every house must be fully decorated for Christmas.
I’m not talking only about the Christmas tree and the typical Christmas decorations you see around the world.
We have something more unique, el pesebre, which is like a nativity scene made big. It’s more like a little town that takes over our living rooms and that was my favorite decoration when I was growing up.
The 7th of December is a big day for Colombians. We celebrate the day of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception by lighting candles at dawn. Families and friends gather outside their homes to light candles and luminaries in the pedestrian ways. Some streets are closed so that cars can’t go through and the streets are completely filled with candles, it’s breath-taking!
Then, 9 days before Christmas, we start the “Christmas novena”. Every day, for 9 days, families get together to pray, sing Christmas carols and eat delicious Christmas treats.
Finally, Christmas is celebrated on the 24th of December.
We reunite with all our family (parents, siblings, grandparents, uncles, cousins, everyone) typically in the afternoon and until midnight. We pray the last novena, have dinner and wait until midnight when baby Jesus arrives with all the presents.
Christmas dinner can be anything, from pork to chicken, there is not something really typical and it really depends on what every family prefers. A must for Christmas night are the typical Colombian Christmas desserts.
The most popular Colombian Christmas desserts are natilla (a set custard made of cornstarch and cinnamon), buñuelos (cheese ball fritters) and hojuelas (a fried dough with sugar).
The Best Colombian Hojuelas Recipe
This is the best hojuelas recipe ever. I got it from my mom who got it from my grandfather who got it from my great-grandparents (you get it).
- 500 g all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons butter (softened)
- 2 tablespoons sugar plus sugar to sprinkle on top of the hojuelas
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 egg yolks
- Juice of 2 oranges plus a bit of water
How To Make The Most Delicious Colombian Hojuelas Ever
I love cooking with my toddler, it is such an easy way to create beautiful memories together and a perfect opportunity to work on different skills. So I am always looking for easy recipes that we can do together. This recipe is one of those.
In fact, a child who is familiar with simple baking can do this (almost) on her own except for the frying step which should be done by an adult.
Step 1. Mix flour, sugar, salt and baking powder.
Step 2. Add butter, egg yolks and orange juice and mix.
Step 3. Slowly add water and knead.
The goal is to have a dough that is soft but not sticky. We used around 1 cup of water but it depends on how much juice your oranges had. If your dough gets sticky add a bit of flour.
Step 4. Cover the dough and let it rise for at least 30 minutes.
Step 5. Roll out on a floured surface to a 2 mm thick dough and cut long strips (ours were around 12×2 cm but they can be any size and shape you like).
Step 6. Fry in hot vegetable oil until (we used canola oil). Safety note: Frying is dangerous for children and should only be done by an adult.
Step 7. Sprinkle with sugar while still hot.
Step 8. Enjoy alone or dip them in marmalade.
Welcome to our fourth annual Christmas in Different Lands series! This year each participating blogger will focus on a different country, sharing a traditional dish and more about Christmas in that country. For even more glimpses of global Christmas celebrations, see our series from previous years (2013, 2014, and 2015), plus follow our Christmas board on Pinterest!
Crafty Moms Share: Nigeria – Jollof Rice
Creative World of Varya: Lebanon
the piri-piri lexicon: Portugal – Sonhos
Pack-n-Go Girls: Austria – Vanillekipferl
Mom Hats and More: USA – Apple Streudel
Multicultural Baby: Paraguay – Sopa Paraguaya
La Clase de Sra. DuFault: Chile – Pan de Pascua
All Done Monkey: Haiti
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