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Day of the Holy Innocents in Colombia

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Day of the Holy Innocents in Colombia
The Day of the Holy Innocents is the commemoration of an episode of Christianity: the massacre of children under two years of age born in Bethlehem (Judea), ordered by King Herod I the Great. Credit: Jose Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro / CC BY-SA 4.0

December 28th is a special date in Colombia: the Day of the Holy Innocents. This day not only evokes a tragic biblical event but is also a day of reflection, cultural tradition, and above all, festive humor.

While the commemoration of the Holy Innocents has a religious background, it manifests in a variety of festivities and practices rooted in Colombian culture. The celebrations encompass not only prayers and masses in Catholic churches but also include a series of unique and colorful traditions in various regions of the country.

Celebrations in Colombia

In Pasto, Nariño, the Day of the Holy Innocents marks the beginning of the Blancos y Negros Festival with an event called ‘Rainbow on the Asphalt.’ Here, the streets turn into canvases where participants use colored chalk to depict myths, legends, and traditions, creating a beautiful public gallery.

In Guapi, Cauca, they celebrate the Fiesta de los Matachines, where people dress up and play pranks on those who don’t wear special costumes, adding a touch of fun and camaraderie to the festivity.

Mocoa, Putumayo, joins the celebration with the Carnival of Water, a centuries-old tradition where the community has fun by splashing water and preparing peculiar foods like cotton empanadas, in a festive and joyful atmosphere.

The influence of this festivity also reaches the media, with television news reducing their usual format to present programs that include comical errors from journalists and presenters, joining the playful spirit of this day.

Origin of the Celebration of the Day of the Holy Innocents

The Day of the Holy Innocents commemorates the biblical episode of the massacre of the children ordered by King Herod. The biblical passage narrates how Herod, enraged at being tricked by the Magi, and determined to destroy the infant Jesus, ordered the killing of all the children in Bethlehem and its surroundings under the age of two.

Children are considered holy innocents since they couldn’t have committed any sin before the age of two. Harmless pranks are an integral part of this celebration, considered a way to remember the tricks and schemes that some families used to protect their children. Thus, the Day of the Holy Innocents in Colombia becomes a mosaic of traditions that honor the memory of the innocent with joy and fun.


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