In this special holiday edition of Moodboard, we talk to Nora Ramos about holiday traditions in South America and her home country, Colombia.
“Typical in South America is the Novena: it’s 9 days, and on the last day, Jesus arrives. We have to go to the Misa—they call it Misa le Gallo. This Mass, before, was midnight, 12 a.m. Right now you can go 7:30, 8:00, any time. There’s Communion, a lot of people go, and later, people like to do what’s called a cena—it’s a big dinner. This is how it used to be in my homeland. Right now, here, I don’t know really the customs for the Catholic people. [In South America] it’s mostly prayers for the first nine days until Jesus arrives in the world.
The cena is big, big, big. You can do chicken rice—people make all kinds of dinners, different dinners, with chicken. They have wine, a little bit of talking, and go to sleep. Later, New Years, is different. It’s a party, dancing… In Brazil, the New Years party goes from 9:00 to 6 in the morning… Christmas is a lot of prayers. Prayers, every day.
You have your Pesebre—it’s a little house, the place where Jesus was born. A very poor place. Donkeys, lambs, Maria, Joseph, los pastores. In your house, you have your pesebre. You’re coming to me with a group of people, we pray the novena. Today is Monday, so you come to me. Tuesday, we go to your house. Wednesday, we go to a house of other friends. By the ninth, the last day, Jesus arrives. There’s a lot of Christmas music, different kinds of instruments, people play the guitar, the flauta—everybody brings a lot of instruments to play. There’s music and prayers until baby Jesus arrives in this world. It’s lovely.”
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