December 15, 2011

Christmas Is All Around

As much as I love fall - the colors, the sweatshirt weather (at least in Minnesota), the pumpkins, the food, the flavors... I love me some Christmas time. Kelsi and I kicked things off this year right away on December 1 with a self-imposed roommate viewing of Love Actually accompanied by gingerbread coffee (thanks mom!) and Christmas tree decorating! 

The tree turned out pretty awesome thanks to Kelsi's hidden talents as a tree whisperer of sorts. She put those fake branches in their places, hung the ornaments with love and in the end, the tree doesn't look quite so Charlie Brown-esque as it did coming out of the box. We even hosted a tree trimming & cookie decorating party later that week. Our friends came over to help make ornaments for the tree and decorate Christmas sugar cookies. Thanks to a delicious recipe from my mom and grandma, the cookies were a hit at both the party and as gifts for our bosses/secretaries.

Oh Christmas tree.

After the tree trimming party we headed out to the Alumbrada here in Cali. This annual lights display is set up along the river in Cali and always has a unique theme. The first year I was here in Cali the theme was the history of dance, which was super informative and interesting for me coming from the Midwest where the history of dance in much more limited... This year the theme was Myths & Legends, which was just as cool in how the lights looked, but I don't think I got quite as much out of it since I am unfamiliar with almost all the myths and legends in Colombia. However, it was still a fun night to spend with friends strolling along the river.

We walked along the Alumbrada on the night of December 7, which is known as Noche de Las Velitas (night of the little candles), which is the eve of the Immaculate Conception and marks the official beginning of the Christmas season in Colombia. (And also meant we had the next day off school! Thanks Mary.)

 Giant purple light up balls? Yes please. Can I have one of my own?

Maybe this is the Colombian myth version of Peter Pan? Or was that a crocodile? 

Kelsi and I enjoying the lights! 

Out enjoying the lights along the river! 

El Duende (gnome) and me! 

Noche de las Velitas is also celebrated at my school, on the first Friday in December, beginning at about sundown, families gather in the field in front of our school library to light small candles in rows of wood planks. During my first year in Colombia I attended this night and loved the coming together of so many families in our school community. Unfortunately, last year the event was cancelled due to rain, so I was very happy to have it back this year! I only stayed for a short while, but I was able to see some students and light candles.

My friend Daniel and me lighting candles. 

Awesome candles photo (thanks to my friend Samantha for the awesome pictures!). 

Dia de las Velitas at school!

How are you kicking off the holiday season this year???

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