Family Traditions: Colombian novena

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Photo courtesy of Angelus News

Every culture has its own traditions and customs. In Colombia, the Christmas Novena is one of our most beautiful and joyful traditions. It is a wonderful way to get friends together and celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ as Christians. Colombians combine prayers and beautiful melodies to take part in this feast. 

My family has prayed this novena ever since I was a little girl. I can’t remember Christmas without it. This tradition has been passed down from generation to generation. It is very dear to Colombians and it is part of our identity as a family. We still pray the novena every year even though we do not live in Colombia. My family usually invites other Christian families and teaches them to pray the novena. The Novena consists of prayers to Joseph, Mary, and the little baby Jesus, in addition to daily reflections and meditations. 

Before we conclude the novena we also have something called “villancicos,” which are melodies sung to invite Jesus into our hearts during this time. Children and parents use maracas, xylophones, tambourines and anything that could create a sound to accompany the guitar in the villancicos. Many Colombians actually sell books with all the songs sung during the Novena. During this time, families also make traditional Colombia foods like arepas, buñuelos and Colombian chocolate. 

Families get together to pray this novena from the 16th to the 24th of December. The Colombian Novena is specifically centered on Catholic teachings. Catholics reflect on the mysteries of the Incarnation during this time and read readings related to the advent reason. The Nativity scene is also set up and families face the manger with baby Jesus during prayers. 

This tradition is very important to me because it reminds me of my home and my faith. All my siblings: Juan, Maria, Jose, Teresita, and Valentina, and I gather around the Christmas tree and make music. Amidst the laughter, prayers, and music, I find myself being extremely proud of being Colombian. The joyful spirit that embodies Colombian culture is so beautiful. This tradition illustrates this joyful spirit.

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