The Ultimate Guide to Colombian Holidays

The Ultimate Guide to Colombian Holidays

TLDR? There are many holidays in Colombia and plenty of opportunities to enjoy and celebrate with its people!

Colombia’s a country full of holidays, some of which are big celebrations while others are mostly forgotten. In fact, there are about 18 holidays that make it onto the calendar each year!

Considering that, in Colombia, the Emiliani law governs, that’s a high number! The Emiliani law indicates that when a holiday falls on a working day during the week, it should be moved to Monday, allowing Colombians three-day weekends to rest and travel.

However, four of these holidays are on weekends. And of course, there are a few exceptions such as religious and political holidays that don’t fall within Emiliani’s law.

If you’re in Colombia and this interests you, here’s a guide on how to enjoy the holidays!

1. January 1st, New Year

 New Year's Eve celebrations

In Colombia, the year begins with a holiday! The first of January is a day to recover from the New Year’s Eve celebrations the night before. Many people go on trips on December 31st to properly enjoy this holiday.

2. January 10th, Three Kings Day

January 10th, Three Kings Day

Although the three kings’ celebration isn’t as significant in Colombia as in Spain, the tradition remained after the Spanish colonization of this Latin American country. The Día de Reyes Magos stands for the first meeting of baby Jesus by the three wise men and is when kids get to open their Christmas gifts.

However, that’s not usual in Colombia, where kids open their gifts on Christmas eve.

Still, this holiday falls under Emiliani’s law, allowing Colombians to vacation and leave home for a while.

3. March 21st, Dia de San Jose

March 21st, Dia de San Jose

Another religiously oriented holiday, Dia de San Jose celebrates St. Mary’s husband.

In recent years, the holiday gained a new meaning and is now used to honor men in Colombia. As such, it’s become the so-called “Men’s Day”, and is inspired by the celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8th.

Many families, couples, and businesses celebrate men with special attention, dinners, or gifts during this holiday weekend.

4. April 14th and 15th, Holy Thursday and Holy Friday

April 14th and 15th, Holy Thursday and Holy Friday

As a predominantly Catholic country, many Colombians, although they don’t work or study on these dates, are very involved in religious issues, processions, and Eucharists.

However, other people may take the entire week to get away from the city.

5. May 1st, Worker’s Day

May 1st, Worker's Day

This day commemorates all Colombian workers who help build the country. And, what better way to celebrate than to take a break from work?

This day is sort of like the Colombian equivalent of the United States’ labor day.

On this day, many people prefer to rest. It’s a good day to stay in bed watching the latest Netflix series and movies. Of course, some prefer to go out for fresh air on the city’s outskirts or enjoy other fun activities.

6. May 30th, Ascension Day

May 30th, Ascension Day

Another Catholic celebration, Ascension Day pertains to the ascension of Jesus to heaven.

It doesn’t include special religious celebrations. Rather, many Colombians take advantage of this date to party, go shopping at a mall, have a delicious dinner, or leave the city for a day or two.

7. June 20th, Corpus Christi Day

June 20th, Corpus Christi Day

This catholic event celebrates the Eucharist (the body and blood of Jesus Christ). Catholics have a special celebration for it, but otherwise, this day is nothing out of the ordinary.

However, this first holiday in June is a good excuse for various leisure activities. Since it falls during the children’s holiday season from school, families focus on spending time with little ones.

8. June 27th, Sacred Heart

June 27th, Sacred Heart

This holiday celebrates God’s love for humanity.

As the second holiday in June, many people take advantage of the fact that they’re on vacation from school, university, and work to leave the city, the country, or stay with friends and family.

9. July 4th, Fiesta de San Pedro y San Pablo

July 4th, Fiesta de San Pedro y San Pablo

This festivity celebrates two Catholic apostles.

It’s the third consecutive holiday weekend. And, just like the previous two, people often take advantage of this day to spend some family time in Parque Arvi or explore some of Medellin’s many other activities.

Catholics will go to mass as they regularly do on Sundays.

10. July 20th, Independence Day 

July 20th, Independence Day

Independence Day is a meaningful celebration for Colombians, including those in other countries. July 20th celebrates the country’s independence from Spanish colonization.

The celebration consists of parades of the Colombian military forces, tricolor flags adorning houses and streets, and people wearing the Colombian soccer team’s t-shirt to show patriotism.

11. August 7th, Battle of Boyaca

August 7th, Battle of Boyaca

After independence day, Colombia celebrates the ending of the war for independence by commemorating Simon Bolivar and all who fought in the freedom wars.

When it falls on a working day, the holiday includes patriotic activities. However, this year it falls on a Sunday, and unfortunately, it’s not under Emiliani law, either!

12. August 15th, Virgin Mary’s Assumption Day

August 15th, Virgin Mary’s Assumption Day

Another of the many Catholic celebrations, this one refers to the elevation of the mother of Christ to heaven.

Catholics attend events on this date to commemorate the virtues of the Virgin Mary.

If you’re wanting to get out of Medellin and visit Guatape or another town for a weekend, this is a good time to do it. That’s because the next holiday won’t be until October!

13. October 17th, Day of the Race

October 17th, Day of the Race

Colombia is a country full of different races and cultures.

This day celebrates the mestizos, zambos, mulattos, and black people that make up this country. Colleges and universities hold events, exhibitions, and seminars discussing racial equality and recognition in Colombia.

14. November 7th, Holiday of All Saints

November 7th, Holiday of All Saints

This holiday celebrates all the Catholic saints and is a day to honor and thank them. For Catholics, it’s an obligation to attend a Eucharist on this date.

Some people prefer to use the holiday to rest, take care of pending tasks, visit their family, go out to eat, or just be lazy and order home delivery.

15. November 14th, Cartagena’s Independence Day

November 14th, Cartagena's Independence Day

Cartagena took a little longer to become independent than the rest of Colombia and celebrates its independence on a different date.

As a celebration, this colonial city holds parades as well as the “Miss Colombia” contest.

Traveling there to enjoy the holidays and soak up the city’s culture is a must.

16. December 8th, Day of the Immaculate Conception

Better known as the day of the candles, December 8th is a day Colombians decorate their houses, streets, and as many places as possible with colored candles, lanterns, and lights.

The day is meant to honor the conception of Jesus Christ.

This day also gives way to the rest of the year-end festivities.

17. December 25th, Christmas

December 25th, Christmas

Colombians usually celebrate Christmas on December 24th with all kinds of events: family gatherings, neighborhood parties, barbecues, and bonfires are all a few of the festivities you can enjoy.

The day after, December 25th is a day to enjoy with the children and open gifts. However, Santa Claus isn’t the one that brings presents to Colombia: that’s the work of the Niño Dios, baby Jesus!

Celebrate the Holidays in Colombia!

Colombia’s a country that loves to party and takes every opportunity to do so. Now you know when and how to join their celebrations!

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