Día de las Velitas
Day of the little candles
Paper lanterns in Quimbaya, Quindío.
Official name Day of the Immaculate Conception
Observed by Colombia
Type State and Religious Holiday
Begins Sundown December 7
Ends Sunrise December 8
Date December 8 (officially)
Celebrations Lighting of candles and lanterns
Observances Various religious processions
Related to Christmas in Colombia

Día de las Velitas (English: Day of the little candles) is one of the most observed traditional holidays of Colombia. It is celebrated on December 7, on the eve of the Immaculate Conception, which is a public holiday in Colombia. This day is the unofficial start of the Christmas season in the country.[1]

On this day, people place candles and paper lanterns on their windows, balconies, porches, sidewalks, streets, parks and squares, in short, everywhere they can be seen, in honor of the Virgin Mary and her immaculate conception.


Imaculada - Murillo

Mary, mother of Jesus, as the Immaculate Conception. Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. Museo del Prado.

The celebration of the Day of the Candles dates to 1854. On December 8, Pope Pius IX solemnly defined as dogma the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, published in his constitution Ineffabilis Deus. In anticipation of this decision, people lit candles and paper lanterns to show their support and belief in this idea.

In Colombia, as in many places all over the world, this announcement was observed by lighting candles. The Catholic Church of Colombia kept alive the celebration and made an annual tradition of lighting candles the night of December 7.


Casa con faroles la madrugada del 8 de diciembre

House in Barranquilla decorated with lanterns during the early hours of December 8.

El Día de las Velitas is celebrated throughout Colombia, but traditions vary in each region and city.

In the municipality of Quimbaya, in the Department of Quindío the most important cultural event is the Candles and Lanterns Festival (full name in Spanish: Fiesta Nacional del Concurso de Alumbrados con Velas y Faroles), which began in 1982 and is held each year on the 7th and 8th of December. Each of the barrios in the township competes to produce the most spectacular lighting arrangements, and many visitors come from throughout Colombia to admire the displays.

In Bogotá, the Christmas decorations reach their peak on this day; the city, fully decorated, plans late activities for the whole family since most Colombians would be out and about admiring the shows, many streets close to traffic and allow pedestrians to walk freely and stop to admire the light arrangements. Malls, museums, stores, and other public places have extended hours of operation. There are many shows that take place on this night, live nativity scenes, caroling events, among others.

In the Caribbean Region of Colombia, the lighting of candles and lanterns takes place on the early hours of December 8, before sunrise, instead of the night before.
Alumbrados del Rio-2007-Medellin

Light display along a river in Medellín

Families meet to celebrate the day and along with lighting the candles, there is abundant food and drinks. An evening that brings extended families groups together to talk during the evening.

In Cali, Valle del Cauca people also walk along the Cali River that is illuminated for the season.

See also


Imagenes del dia de las velitas

  1. "Con Las Velitas Se Prende La Navidad" (in Spanish). El Tiempo. 6 December 2003. Retrieved 25 November 2008. 
tr:Día de las Velitas

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