What are the best Colombian Christmas Dishes?

29 Nov 2022 - Category: Blog /
colombian food

Christmas is fast approaching. The thoughts of many people are already turning to Christmas food. What kinds of dishes will be on your table this Christmas? Do you prefer a traditional or an alternative Christmas meal?

Christmas food is different all around the world and each country has their own Christmas traditions. In Colombia you might tuck in to Bunuelos and Empanadas on Christmas Eve, and some Sancocho and Tamales on Christmas Day rather than a Roast Turkey and Mashed Potatoes.

So, what else do Colombians eat on Christmas? In this blog we’ll be exploring everything you need to know about Colombian Christmas Food, including:

Colombian Christmas Dishes and Food

The main Christmas meal in Colombia is usually eaten on the evening of Christmas Eve. Below we’ve highlighted a few of the favourite Colombian Christmas dishes and food.

  • Lechona

Lechona, also known as lechón asado, is one of the most popular Colombian Christmas dishes. It is made by roasting a pig, and then stuffing the slow-roasted pork with vegetables, herbs, spices, yellow rice and onions. Lechona translates to “suckling pig” and, depending on which home you go to, the Lechona is sometimes served as a whole stuffed pig on a large platter with sides of salad, potatoes and fruit.

  • Ajiaco Bogotano

Ajiaco Bogotano is a traditional chicken and potato soup. It is a warm and comforting dish that is perfect for Christmas. This hearty dish is made with three different kinds of potatoes, some tasty chicken and corn. It is a colourful soup that will fill you up and make you feel nice and sleepy for the rest of the evening.

  • Natilla

Natilla Colombiana is a great Colombian Christmas custard. It is a rich dessert that is a mainstay of any Christmas Eve meal in Colombia. Natilla is usually served alongside buñuelos.

This dish is quite similar to dulce de leches but it is thicker and flavoured with a panela. It can be served in a variety of ways such as firm and sliceable, or in a more creamier pudding form. Some will also experiment with their Natilla by including raisins, nuts and shredded fresh coconut.

  • Hojuelas

Hojuela means flake in Spanish and is a traditional Colombian sweet baked-good. You are likely to find many Hojuelas in homes in Colombia during Holy Week and the Christmas Season. It is a delicious fried pastry with sugar and jam that delights Colombian kids and adults throughout Christmas time.

  • Buñuelos

Buñuelos is one of those delightful pre-dinner snacks that has to appear at any Colombian Christmas Eve celebration. Buñuelos are deep-fried cheese fritters that are rolled into bite-size balls that have a crispy exterior and a soft, fluffy interior.

  • Dulce de Nochebuena

Colombians have a sweet tooth and one of the best sweet Christmas dishes is a dulce de Nochebuena, a ‘Christmas Eve dessert’. This snack usually consists of a variety of fruits like papaya, figs and lime in syrup. It is the perfect way to start the Christmas Eve feast and always gets you in a Christmassy mood.

Colombian Christmas Traditions

In Colombia the Christmas holiday traditions begin on the seventh of December. Houses and streets are covered in candles, lanterns and a variety of lights, to commemorate ‘Día de las Velitas’ - the Day of the little Candles.

December 7 is the eve of Immaculate Conception, a public holiday in Colombia and a Catholic holiday celebrated around the world. On this day families and friends will gather in their homes, eat food together and immerse themselves in the festive spirit. Many will also head to church services and take part in street parades and fireworks shows. Children will make paper lanterns and leave them on windowsills, sidewalks and balconies. It is a special day in the Colombian calendar that marks the beginning of the Christmas period.

Then, from December 16 to Christmas Eve on December 24, many Colombians across the country and world will have ‘novenas’. Christmas Novena or ‘Novena de Aguinaldos’ are special occasions when family, friends and loved ones get together in someone’s house to pray, sing carols and eat a lot of delicious Colombian food.

As in many other countries, Colombians will decorate their homes with wreaths, lights, candles, baubles and Christmas trees. Around 70% of Colombian people are Catholic and therefore you are also likely to find a nativity scene/display (el pesebre) in many homes and buildings within the country. In early December, children in Colombia will write a letter to Baby Jesus asking for presents. This letter, ‘Carta al Niño Dios’, will then be displayed in the pesebre.

In Colombia, Christmas Eve is when the big meal is eaten. Here you can expect to feast on a number of the dishes we highlighted above such as Ajiaco Bogotano, Natill, Hojuelas and Buñuelos. Then after the meal many Colombians will end their festive celebration by attending a Midnight Mass church service. Here religious people can gather, pray, remember the meaning of Christmas and give thanks for all the Christmas food and celebrations.

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