Today, Colombians celebrate La noche de las velitas. The night of the little candles, a supposedly catholic holiday. See Wikipedia’s entry for it*. Below is an excerpt from it:
“This is believed to derive from a hanukkah tradition since a large number of paisas are from Jewish descent.”
* I have no idea why they call it Day instead of Night.
Now, I am not Paisa but from Santader.
However, I did grow up playing with dreidels around Hanukristmas™ and with groggers around Purim/Holy Week.
On December 7-8, houses, cars, churches were decorated with with white and – guess – light blue.
My upbringing included several foods for our holidays that only until I came to Canada and my daughter started dating a Jewish man I could identify as traditional Hanukkah, or Purim, or Passover foods.
I have no idea if I am a descendant of Sephardic Jews come from Spain during the colony years or from German Jews from the late 1800s small scale immigration wave into my province. my educated guess is that I probably have both since my father’s family is of German descent, and my mother’s family is certified, one hundred percent mutt. As true Heinz 57 as they come.
It’s been funny and extremely interesting to discover this late in life that so many things I thought so Colombian are actually not. For sure whatever traditions were passed on to me are now part of the Colombian culture. At this point there is no extricating them from the national fabric. In that sense, they are Colombian.
But the notion that their roots are in peoples and communities other than native Chibcha or African or catholic Spaniard is exhilarating.
I embrace diversity. I embrace acceptance and I am happy I am such a mutt. Perhaps that is the reason I have always feel connected to all peoples in the world.
You know, It was late in life when I realized most people are not. At first I was like, you mean to tell me everybody else doesn’t feel this way?
I had to be explained – by a person I highly respect – that it is hard for people to relate to the tragedies and/or deaths of people that don’t look like them. That was back when I confronted, and probably alienated 90% of my Facebook friends, accusing them of not caring for the children of Peshawar.
My heart was so heavy with sorrow, I just could not understand how people here went on with their daily routines as if nothing had happened. (And after all this time, nobody ever changed their profile picture to the Pakistani flag. In fact, I doubt a lot of people remember Peshawar, know that it is in Pakistan or even ever heard of the tragedy).
This person took it upon herself to ignore my accusing finger pointing at her face and instead of reacting in a defensive manner, explained to me in terms I could understand the difficulty people have relating to terrible things that happen outside their bubbles… eeeer… communities.
But I digress. As usual. Please forgive me. The sorrow makes my heart as heavy today as it did on the day I learned of it. And unfortunately for me, sorrow inevitably leads to anger. I may understand the why now but I still don’t understand the not trying.
A mutt. Yes. Embracing of diversity. Remembering of loved ones, alive and gone.
That is why I celebrate. Because it does not matter if it is Hanukkah or Christmas. It doesn’t matter if it is the miracle of the little oil lamp or the miracle of the birth of a holy child. It doesn’t matter if I light a candle a day or many in the same day. And most certainly it does not matter what the colour of an overpriced disposable cup of coffee is [insert angelic smile here].
Love. Joy. Caring. Celebration of live no matter what your beliefs are. That’s what really matters.
So tonight at sundown, I light the candles.