“El Sombrero Vueltiao is the hat that has come to represent Colombia as a symbol. I feel strongly connected to this symbol because my parents are both from the Atlantic Coast of Colombia, and although I was born and raised in Cali, I was always surrounded by the Sombrero Vueltiao, las abarcas (traditional sandals) and all the flavors from the Coast: suero, pescado seco (dried fish), yuca (cassava), and more. I have memories of listening to Vallenatos everyday at home with my parents who loved to host simple fiestas on Saturdays with some other Costeños and neighbors.
Sombreros are a big part of the rural Colombian culture and the different festivals and carnivals around the country. There is a sombrero for everything, and they all look different. Some of the sombreros are engrained in particular cultures, which is the case of the Guambianopeople in the Cauca Department who have a very special bowler hat. This said, not everyone wears sombreros in Colombia, so don’t get disappointed if you ever visit and don’t see any sombreros.
Since the Sombrero Vueltiao has also become an icon in attempts (which has been pretty successful!) to attract tourists, I am sure you will at least see one sombrero and some pictures of it in Colombia.
This video below explains the history of the Sombrero Vueltiao and its meaning for the people from the Atlantic Coast of Colombia.
This year marks the 207th year since Colombia gained its independence from Spain on July 20th, 1810. Colombians observe this day by taking the day off from work. Many of the main celebrations happen in Bogotá, Colombia’s capital city. The Army puts on various parades, and the president delivers a speech to commemorate the day. It is also common for Colombians to show pride by wearing the colors of the Colombian flag (yellow, blue, and red), and many people put flags up outside their houses.
What a great way to celebrate by sharing this librito with you! Please click on the picture to download your copy!
This is a video tutorial showing how to make the book.
El Año Viejo is a common year-end tradition in Colombia and other countries in Latin America. On December 31st, everyone gets excited about the New Year and its obligatory resolutions for change. Años Viejos are used in many places to symbolically leave behind bad things from the previous year. Traditionally, this involved burning effigies full of firecrackers or pockets of gunpowder, but for safety reasons, the practice has evolved into something less spectacular but no less important. Below you can find a video of how intense and exciting this celebration can be.
The Año Viejo is now crafted as a small doll in a tin. People take small pieces of paper and write all the bad things that have happened during the year. They then burn them and the doll in the tin as a symbol of renewal.
Some towns in Colombia and Ecuador host daylight parades on December 31st to show the effort and artistic talent that has been put into making the doll before it gets burned in the middle of the night.
There is a song about not forgetting the “Año Viejo” and being grateful for the great things in life. This song was composed by Cresencio Salcedo, a Colombian songwriter and made famous by Mexican singer Tony Camargo. The song is played all over Latin America during the December celebrations and and has been danced to for over 60 years! Below is a video of the original singer who never got to meet the writer of the song.
Yo no olvido el año viejo porque me ha deja’o cosas muy buenas.
Me dejó una chiva, una burra negra, una yegua blanca y una buena suegra.
This is one of those traditions you can easily share with your students. Have them decorate their Año Viejo and have them think about what they would like to do in the future. I have a simple and fun activity where students put together their own paper “Año Viejo” and write about their goals for the new year. This resource is available on Teachers Pay Teachers. Please note that this activity doesn’t include an “Año viejo” doll.
La Noche de las Velitas is one of the most exciting celebrations in Colombia since it marks the beginning of the Christmas season. What a great opportunity to share this with your students and make it part of your class! I have written some blog posts in the past that provide more background and introduce you to some activities you may use to bring this celebration into your classroom.
December 7th is an exciting day in Colombia! It’s the day when many people celebrate “La Noche de las Velitas” also known as “El Día delas Velitas.” Although the origins of this celebration are religious (as the night when many families welcome and celebrate “The Immaculate Conception”), it’s also seen as a way for families to welcome the end of year festivities in which many people, but not all, celebrate Navidad. Farolitos (luminaries) and candles are seen everywhere.
I have blogged before about the importance of this celebration in Colombia. Visit the links below to read my previous posts and find other activities to help you share with your students about this and other Christmas traditions in Colombia.
This is a simple way to make farolitos with your students. You will need:
1. Paper lunch bags
2. Led tea light – battery operated
3. Templates of different Christmas shapes
4. Tissue paper – preferably green and red
Use the opportunity to bring some language to the lesson. Visit my previous post with some ideas about questions for this activity. Talk about the colors and materials needed to make the farolitos.
You will need to prepare the templates in advanced and pre-cut the pieces of tissue paper.
1. Trace the shape on the paper lunch bag.
2. Cut out the shape. Younger students might need help to start cutting the shape.
3. Glue the tissue paper inside the paper bag.
4. Insert tea light
This is optional. Students can make designs around the edges of the bag.
5. Get ready to sing some villancicos while celebrating La Noche de las Velitas in class. Here is a great playlist on YouTube. I also recommend the “Mi Burrito Sabanero” version by Colombian singer Juanes.
Mamá Tortuga, who is also a Colombian bloguera has another awesome tutorial to make farolitos with your students. Please hop over her blog – rápido y no a paso de tortuga- to learn all about it!
December is a busy month in Colombia. Many schools close early in the month, and everyone gets ready to celebrate “la Navidad” with friends and family. Everything starts on December 7th with “La Noche de la Velitas,”a night for everyone to celebrate la Inmaculada Concepcion. You will find candles in many houses, and they will stay lit all, night and the celebration continues until December 8th.
From December 16 to the 24th, many families gather to recite prayers and sing Christmas songs next to the Nativity scence. This is called “Las Novenas” because it lasts nine days.
December 24th is a family night, when everyone awaits with joy the rebirth of “El Niño Jesús.” People share Colombian treats such as natilla, brevas, and manjar blanco to celebrate. The children that attended all the novenas without missing a might will get presents from the family hosting the celebration. This is the most important night when people stay up waiting for Niños Dios to arrive. Children have to go to bed before midnight to be able to receive their presents.
December 25th is the day when the children celebrate opening the presents “El Niño Jesús” left next to the Nativity scene, the Christmas tree, or under the bed.
All these celebrations lead to December 28th, “El Día de los Inocentes,” a day that is similar to April Fools in the United States. It is a day filled with jokes and fun.
And on December 31st everyone gets excited about the New Year and the resolutions it brings. Año Viejosare built in many places to leave the bad things from the previous year behind and make a new start. They are be burned at 12:00am. The five minutes before the year ends are crucial and frantic, with yellow underwear for good luck, suitcases filled to go around the block (to ensure you travel much), a dollar bill in your pocket (you probably get the reason for this one), 12 grapes with 12 wishes or resolutions, and many other exciting and fun thing for a new start to a new year.
January 6th is usually not a big day in Colombia, but it is in other countries like Spain. In Colombia, it’s the date that marks the end of the Christmas season which means it’s time to put away the pesebre for next year!