Sunday, December 27, 2009
As I described in my earlier post about Christmas, it is very common for Colombians to practice "the Novena," which are celebrated the nine nights before Christmas. I have learned from my Catholic friend that there are hundreds of "Novenas" or, prayers for grace. However, this Christmas tradition runs strong among Colombians, and as far as I can tell, is specific to December 16-24.
We were privileged to be invited into two homes of Colombian friends. On the other nights, we celebrated at home, sometimes with my parents and sometimes with other MCC friends.
Elements of this celebration/ritual vary, but some common activities included lighting individual candles from the "Christ light," praying the Rosary (incredibly fast), reading 1/9 of the Christmas story from the bible, singing carols in both English and Spanish with maracas and instruments under the tree, children sitting on pillows by the tree, prayers and intentions, spoken and silent, intergenerational games with candy prizes, food to share: bunuelos (fried dough with cheese) natilla (sweet, gummy pudding), fresh fruit, sliced ham or turkey, cheese, Coca-Cola, wine, Sangria with tropical fruit.
During one of the celebrations we shared with Colombian friends, I heard the most moving prayer I have ever heard from a nine year old boy, as well as from his 80 year old Great-Grandparents, who are devout Catholics.
Our family found this to be a moving reminder of what was to come on Christmas Eve, and a way to center ourselves in the rush and excitement of the season. I know we will continue this tradition in some form for a long time.
We were also asked to share part of a Christmas tradition from our home, so we brought cookies to be decorated and eaten. They thought this was very fun (and had not done it before).
Posted by Jennifer Chappell Deckert at 8:11 PM