Traditional Christmas Greeting: "Felize Navidad"
Location: South America
Tree Type: Traditional
Decorations: The Museum's Colombian tree is decorated with lights, baskets of candy, ribbons, fabric dolls and homemade ornaments.
Traditions: Christmas celebrations in Colombia, shaped by the 90 percent of Colombians who are Roman Catholic, begin in early December with a ceremony in honor of the Virgin Mary. On the evening of December 7th, families light scores of candles and use them to outline streets, sidewalks, and parks so that entire cities are illuminated. December 8th brings a national holiday commemorating the Immaculate Conception during which more prayers and candles are offered to the Virgin Mary. Christmas trees are raised and decorated on December 16th with the start of the Novena, which in Colombia involves a nine-day prayer ritual with a rosary in anticipation of Christmas day. During this time of celebration of Christ's birth, groups of families and friends, often encompassing an entire village or neighborhood, will gather together each night to pray. Villancicos, better known as Christmas carols, are also sung around the nativity scene that plays a significant part of Colombia's Christmas celebrations. Most Colombians attend Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve before returning home for dinner. The Christmas meal often includes a special chicken soup called Ajiaco, homemade breads, fritters, roast port and natilla, a corn-based dessert. Presents are brought by "El Niño Jesus" to the foot of children's beds by the next morning, and after a relaxing day spent with family, the Christmas season is complete.