Day of the Little Candles in Colombia

05 Dec 2023 - Category: Blog /
Little Candles

The Day of the Little Candles in Colombia is one of the most fascinating and popular global traditions of the Christmas season. Unique to Colombia, this special occasion is a key part of festivities in this South American state, and we’re exploring all the highlights of this wonderful celebration below.

Read on to find out more about:

  • What Little Candles Day in Colombia is
  • Why Little Candles Day is celebrated
  • Cultural crossovers with the Day of Little Candles
  • What activities happen for the Day of Little Candles

What is the Day of the Little Candles?

The Day of the Little Candles or Día de las Velitas is a special festival and celebration in Colombia that marks the beginning of their Christmas festivities. 

Surveys suggest up to 90% of the Colombian population is Catholic, or Roman Catholic, so Christian celebrations are a very important part of their culture. Furthermore, Colombian communities in the USA may also want to keep this piece of their culture alive. You may find communities or families in your neighborhood involved with this special occasion.

The Day of the Little Candles celebrates the Catholic holiday of the Immaculate Conception. This is a holiday celebrated by Catholics worldwide, but in Colombia, they have their way of celebrating and a unique approach to this festive event.

Why is Little Candle Day Celebrated?

Colombians commemorate the Day of the Little Candles on December 7th, which is the official precursor to the Immaculate Conception celebrated on December 8th

Similar to Christmas Eve, this holiday holds significance for Colombians and has evolved from its Catholic origins to become a more secular celebration, marking the start of the Christmas season.

Understanding the Immaculate Conception

The Immaculate Conception is often misunderstood as referring to the conception of Jesus, but that's not the case.

It refers to the conception of Mary, Jesus' mother. According to Catholic belief, Mary was preserved from the effects of Adam's sin from the very beginning of her conception. 

This sin, known as original sin, is what Catholics believe Mary was free from, allowing her to be pure and worthy of carrying Jesus. Understanding and interpreting Catholic doctrines and theology can be quite challenging, and the concept of the Immaculate Conception is still a topic of debate even today.

Cultural Crossovers with the Day of the Little Candles

The beginning of the Day of the Little Candles saw Catholics worldwide lighting candles in anticipation of the Pope’s declaration in 1854. However, this celebration has many cultural comparisons and crossovers with other traditions, including:

  • Jewish Hanukkah – a festival of lights that takes place towards the end of November and the beginning of December.
  • Aztec New Fire Ceremony – in Mexico, the ancient Aztec people celebrated the New Fire ceremony every 52 years to commemorate the full completion of their calendar. This involves lighting fires around their settlements and cities.
  • Fiesta de Las Velas: a huge celebration in the Oaxaca region of Mexico commemorating and honoring the patron saints. Once again, this is a celebration involving lights and candles.

The Day of the Little Candles is of huge cultural significance in Colombia. Anyone considering a move to the country will want to know exactly what happens on this important date.

What activities happen for the Day of Little Candles?

On the evening of December 7th, Colombian households and Colombian families around the globe come together to create a beautiful sight. They light up small candles or sometimes paper lanterns, placing them in various spots. 

You'll see these candles and lanterns adorning every home, from windows to balconies and even on the streets. The entire country illuminates in honor of the Virgin Mary and her pure role as the mother of God. 

This special occasion brings forth numerous beloved traditions, one of which involves making a wish for each candle you light. It's a way to kickstart the season of goodwill as Christmas approaches. Different regions of Colombia have their unique celebrations, and we've explored just a handful of these diverse traditions.


The people of the Colombian capital love to flaunt the significance of this celebration. They always put together a grand event for families and friends to gather, complete with various performances like a magic show and, naturally, a dazzling fireworks display.


Quimbaya, located in the western part of Colombia, hosts a lively event called the Candles and Lanterns Festival every year. This exciting competition brings neighbors together as they strive to craft the most breathtaking and dazzling lighting arrangements. 

Quimbaya serves as a prime illustration of how Little Candles Day has evolved into a secular celebration that holds cultural importance surpassing its religious origins.

Caribbean Region

The Caribbean region of Colombia sets itself apart from the rest by lighting its candles in the early hours of December 8th rather than the night before. Cities such as Santa Marta and Cartagena sit at the heart of this region.

Celebrating Colombian Culture

Whether traveling to Colombia for an adventure or considering a permanent move, it is important to understand and embrace local cultures. Understanding and appreciating other cultures and their festivals is as vital as recognizing and understanding their currency, climate, and geography before visiting and beginning to explore.

During the festive Christmas season, Small World Financial Services emerges as a reliable and efficient choice for sending money to Colombia, ensuring that your loved ones experience the joy of the holidays without financial constraints. 

Small World's user-friendly platform simplifies the process, allowing you to effortlessly transfer funds to Colombia with competitive exchange rates and low fees. 

If you're sending a present to your loved ones or helping out your friends in Colombia this holiday season, Small World guarantees that your heartfelt financial gestures will arrive quickly, reliably, and affordably. 

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