English Guide to Salento, Colombia

Day of Little Candles and Immaculate Conception

Day of Little Candles and Immaculate Conception

Posted on 11-Dec-2016 in Holidays, Sights |

Day of Little Candles and Immaculate Conception

On December 7th & 8th Colombia really lights up to welcome the Christmas season. The 7th is the Day of the Little Candles.  The 8th is the day to celebrate the Immaculate Conception of Mary (a national holiday in Colombia). The tradition is for everyone to put candles and paper lanterns outside of their homes and shops to honor the Virgin Mary.

Little Salento is no exception. Candles lined the streets in town, in front of houses, windowsills and porches. The town was filled with locals and visitors, and everyone was in a festive mood.

Below is a typical street scene – the house is well decorated and the curb and porch is lined with candles in paper lanterns.

Willys Jeep Lanterns

Sure, Salento had lots of lanterns in traditional shapes — angels, swans, flowers and pretty geometrics. But my absolute favorite was the ubiquitous Willy Jeep! Below is a close-up of one of these totally unique paper lanterns.

I have to admit I was totally amused by these little lanterns. The folks here have really got all their bases covered. Take a close look… you can see Santa Claus, mistletoe, bells, Christmas lights and presents. But I think best of all is Mary and Jesus popping out of the roof. They look like honored political dignitaries in a motorcade!

The only thing missing was a few reindeer. But who needs reindeer to pull you around in Colombia when you can ride in style in a Willys jeep!

Candles with REAL Flames are OK!

I’m compelled to make some editorial comment here since it was on my mind as I walked about the town. I saw hundreds of open flames sitting inside flammable paper lanterns. They were literally everywhere… on the curbs, in the middle of the sidewalk and deliberately laid out throughout the town square.

And guess what? No one was freaked out that there were unattended open flames everywhere. There were no rules against it, no requirement to use battery powered fake candles. There were no “safety barriers” or “don’t touch” signs or cordoned off don’t-walk areas guarded by police.

People here in Colombia (including children!) seem quite competent and capable. They actually managed to walk around the little lanterns without knocking them over or catching themselves on fire! Even the dogs running lose have enough common sense to stay away from the flames.

Candles are so beautiful and such a simple pleasure. I often wonder how many of these small pleasures are now only memories in the USA. With so many regulations and over-zealous “safety rules” a public display of candles can no longer happen.

Or perhaps it’s due to our notorious litigious attitude? It surely must be someone else’s fault if I am unable to pay attention to where I put my own feet when I walk!  (OK, enough, I’m off my soap-box now.)

Please enjoy the photos and come visit if you can.

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