December is one of the best times of the year to visit Medellín. The city is decorated with millions of lights, and the month starts with a bang, literally, as people light off fireworks on the 30th to ring in December. Throughout the month, Colombians get together with family and friends to celebrate, because in Colombia, December is a month-long celebration of tradition, holiday and family and, plenty of instances of celebrating just to celebrate.
December in Medellin Should Be in Your Travel Plans!
If you’ve had the chance to spend December here, you know what we’re talking about. The streets are decorated for Christmas, fireworks are a common occurrence, delicious treats are everywhere, and the feeling throughout Colombia is one of celebration. You can feel the celebratory mood in everyone and you just know it’s going to be full of parties and family meetings, so much so, that planning an event, finding time to hang out with friends or taking a vacation is usually put off until January.
The celebration starts with Alborada, a celebration that started a little over 10 years ago. At about 11:45pm on the 30th of November, people get together and set up fireworks to celebrate the beginning of December in Medellin. Additionally, December 1st is the day Medellin turns on the Christmas lights in the city. For the past 50 years, Medellin has been decorating the whole city with beautiful lights. This year, Parque Norte is where you will find most of the lights, dancers, food, and music.
2. Dia de las Velitas
On the 7th of December get ready for Día de las Velitas (Day of the Little Candles). Families and friends get together and light candles for the Virgin Mary and make wishes for the New Year. All the supermarkets and street vendors are selling giant bags of candles and lanterns for the streets. Buy yours early, it’s not fun to miss the party!
From the 16th to the 24th of December, Colombians complete what’s called a Novena de Aguinaldos or Nine days of gifts. Colombians get together to pray and sing for 9 days until Jesus is born on the 24th. During this time you are supposed to give your loved ones December gifts and play silly games.
The 24th of December is the big Christmas celebration in Colombia. Colombians celebrate the day before the birth of Jesus. Typically, they get together with family, not only parents and siblings, but grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and any other distant relatives who will all eat dinner together, make natilla, buñuelos, hojuelas and drink. At some point, an uncle hides the Baby Jesus and the person who finds it usually gets money for it. At midnight, all the presents under the tree are opened, and then everyone just keeps partying.
5. Spend New Years Wearing Yellow Underwear – for Luck.
- Eat 12 grapes for luck, one for each month of the coming year
- Wear yellow underwear (for luck also)
- Run around the block with an empty suitcase to ensure you travel a lot in the coming year
- Write your wishes for the new year on little pieces of paper and then burn them to make them come true
5 minutes before the year ends, everyone in the city turns on their radio to catch the traditional new years song. It’s tradition to all sing together before finally doing the countdown for the New Year. At 12am everyone at the party hugs and wishes each other a Happy New Year. Then, the celebration continues until the early hours of the morning. The next day, everyone meets to cook huge pots of Sancocho in the street. Sancocho, a traditional Colombian stew, can cure even the worst of hangovers. And, with a belly full of Sancocho the new year begins in Medellin.
Happy Christmas celebrations in Colombia!