BOGOTA – Colombians celebrated on Monday the traditional Day of the Little Candles even as the COVID-19 epidemic restricted some cultural events of the festival in the main cities of the country.
Revelers hold the traditional night of vigil on Dec. 7 on the eve of the Immaculate Conception. It also marks the start of the Christmas season in Colombia.
In some neighborhoods of Bogota, citizens came out wearing masks to the doors of their houses and their terraces to light a candle and pray for a better future.
Several families also came to light candles at the Catedral Primada de Colombia, located in the central Bolivar Square, where traditionally local authorities held cultural events every year.
In other cities, such as Cali, the largest city in southwestern Colombia, trucks decorated with Christmas lights drove through different parts of the city so that people wouldn’t have to step out of their homes to see the lights, one of the traditional plans for this day.
The impact of the epidemic on celebrations was also evident in Barranquilla.
The authorities imposed a curfew in the port city to prevent the spread of the virus amid a recent spike.
Unlike other regions of Colombia, where the celebrations take place in the afternoon and evening of Dec. 7, in Barranquilla, people hold festivities early morning the next day.
In Barranquilla, the peak of coronavirus infections occurred in June and July when the city recorded one of the highest rates per 100,000 inhabitants.
The mayor’s office has also banned social gatherings of over 10 people until Jan. 16.
“Today, we begin a beautiful Christmas celebration, which brings together the hearts of all Colombians. This day is a unique space and a space where, as a family, by lighting a candle, we are lighting the spirit of Christmas, of solidarity, of fraternity,” Colombian President Ivan Duque said.
“This has to be the moment where we all reflect on how hard this year has been, but that we can also reflect on the positive lessons and the way we have weathered it, looking forward,” he added.
Some 1,377,100 coronavirus cases have been reported in Colombia, including 37,995 deaths.
The total number of active cases in the country stands at 68,248, while nearly 1.27 million people have already recovered from the disease.