Thursday, December 27, 2012

Colombian Christmas Part 2: La comida

One of the most important components of any holiday celebration is the food. During Christmas time, the most important dishes are buñuelos and natilla. I actually got to make both of these dishes back in the United States for my Spanish club. It was a big hit. My husband gave his stamp of approval, and since being in Colombia, he has been telling everyone that his Irish-American wife can cook.

Now, that I have gotten my first batch under control. I can learn to try different flavors. When we arrived, my father-in-law had some leftovers for us. The natilla he left us was cinnamon flavored. The one I made was more coconut-flavored.

A friend from high school had contacted me about a week ago asking me what to make her Colombian daycare provider. I totally her make natilla. Not only will she love it, but it is really easy to make. She wrote me back to thank me for the recipe and said that it made this woman's day.

Making food for me serves two purposes - teaching people about another culture and bringing a piece of home to those who live far away from the place where they grew up.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Colombian Christmas Part 1: Día de las Velitas

Christmas is celebrated in many different ways in various parts of the world. Right after Thanksgiving, my husband and I bought decorations for our apartment. For the first time, he hung lights and helped me decorate our little tiny Christmas tree. We also listened to Christmas music that I have grown up hearing. However, being the bi-cultural couple that we are, it would only be fair to include some of his customs.

One of them is Día de las Velitas (Day of the little Candles) in Colombia. It starts in most places on December 7th, the eve of the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Colombia is a very Catholic country, and this holiday reflects that tradition. Although when I was teaching it to the students, I didn't go too deeply into origin of the holiday. The pictures of the holiday was all that they were interested in anyway.

To incorporate this holiday into our house, we lit candles and listened to some of the traditional Christmas music that they sing in Colombia. They are called villancicos. Of course, the most famous one is "El burrito sabanero". My favorite version is the one sung by Juanes who by the way I am going to see this June when he comes to Boston. :)

The other thing I love about Colombia are the decorations. In Quimbaya, Colombia they are well known for the faroles, or paper lanterns, which they display on December 7th. Medellin, another city, is one of the 5 best cities to see Christmas lights in the world.

I hope one day to be able to see these beautiful sights in person and not just in people's home videos.