My Informant was a 21 year old female who moved to the United States from Bogota, Colombia in 2004. She lives five houses down on my street.
On December 7th we celebrate this event called “Dia de la Velitas”, which is the start of the holiday season. What my family does is, we wait until it’s night time, then we each get a candle. As we light the candle, we make a wish and then set all of the candles on this plate, on the top part. We set the plate on the driveway, so it’s slanted down and then we just wait. We hang around and talk and watch the candles burning. I’m not sure if this is part of the regular tradition, but we play a sort of game with the wax. We wait until the candle wax starts to melt and run down the plate and the first candle to have its wax reach the bottom of its plate gets the wish. I mean, who’s candle that is has their wish come true. We make a fun night out of it, we make empanadas and drink soda and just mess around.
Collector: Has your family tradition changed at all since you moved here from Colombia?
Informant: Well, my family hasn’t, but it’s not the same.
Collector: How so?
Informant: In Colombia everyone participates, and I mean everyone. You see candles all over the city. People line the streets with them and some hang lanterns. Here, my family is the only one on our street who does it… we might even be the only people to do it for miles.
Collector: What does “Dia de las Velitas” translate to?
Informant: Day of the Candles.
Cultural traditions vary depending on location and contribute to the ethnic identities of people. As seen here, although my informant has moved away from the area where the traditional practice generally occurs, she and her family continue to perform according to their ethnic identity.