Wallingford residents continue native Colombian celebration 

WALLINGFORD — Dia de las velitas — Day of the Little Candles — is considered to be the unofficial start of the holiday season in Colombia.

This Catholic tradition is celebrated on the night of Dec. 7. Rows of candles are lit all over the streets of Colombia to commemorate the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary.

This tradition is celebrated differently across Colombia. Bogota is known for celebrating with fireworks while in Quimbaya neighborhoods have candle and lantern festivals, according to Smithsonian Magazine.

In many parts of Colombia, roads are closed for candle displays. While most regions celebrate on Dec. 7, others celebrate on Dec. 8 and some celebrate on both days.

On this holiday, families and friends gather in the neighborhood to celebrate and eat cultural food such as bunuelos and natilla.

Maria Harlow, executive director of the United Way of Meriden-Wallingford, is continuing the tradition with her daughter, Fiona Harlow. 

“Fiona is half Colombian and to me is very important that she knows and is proud of her heritage,” Harlow said. “Traditions like this are a nice way to do that.

For the holiday, Harlow and her daughter light candles outside. 

“I pray to the Virgin Mary and make a wish,” Harlow said. “In Colombia, it is a community-wide celebration. It is very rooted in our culture. It is an opportunity to get family and friends together.” 

Angiee Betancourt, owner of Stravaganxxa in Wallingford, also continues to celebrate Dia de las velitas with her family every year. 

 “This is very spiritual for me, I give thanks for those who have supported me over the year,” said Betancourt, whose shop sells products made in Colombia.  

Betancourt celebrates after 7 p.m. on both Dec. 7 and 8. She described the tradition similar to a party. 

“In Colombia, the country is filled with lanterns and fireworks. People play music. Here, we light a candle and pray, we make wishes and hope for good fortune,” she said. 

jdiaz@record-journal.com203-317-2386Twitter: @jarelizz


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