Christmastime was different for many people this year. My Christmas preparation after school ended was helping my friend after she had a knee replacement. Covid 19 changed everything for many of us. My other friend who is from Columbia and myself jumped at the chance to help our friend in need. My friend from Columbia shared her tradition with us, which made it very special for the three of us to experience.
She pulled out from her red bag candles, a unique prayer book in Spanish and an eight candle holder. She lit seven candles, but she had no candle in the eighth. In her family tradition they light candles and do prayers and songs to celebrate the second coming of Christ and celebrate Jesus’ birth for days before Christmas day. She brought her musical instruments I remember playing in music class from elementary school. She pulled out a triangle instrument, tambourine and shakers. She gave us songbooks that held Christmas songs in Spanish and others published in English. She opened up this old Spanish prayer book her parents gave her when she was a child who celebrated Christmas in a fashion much like Shabbat but not quite.
After lighting the candles, she helped us understand that they celebrate the seven days of creation, and God rested on the eighth. She read the prayers in her language of Spanish then translated the prayers for us. The prayers were beautiful. In between the prayers we sang a beautiful song for the baby child Jesus a child’s song from long ago. My friend, who had knee surgery, smiled over this new experience, and I felt great peace and love that night that will stay with me forever.
Our families weren’t together this year, and yet somehow, in that little room, singing and praying in a tradition different from mine shed a new kind of light. A ray of HOPE, despite how Covid 19 changes how we do things today, ‘change’ is something to embrace rather than grieve over.
I, of course, looked up this Columbia tradition for myself and found an article on it: https://www.cartagenaexplorer.com/december-7-noche-de-las-velitas-colombia/
This brief little encounter into a tradition taught by another especially helped each of us endure a difficult Christmas without our family and the ‘familiar,’ into a culture that provided a ‘grace’ period.
“We didn’t realize we were making memories; we just knew we were having fun”pooh bear