Día de Velitas (Day of the Little Candles) is a Colombian tradition that marks the start of the Christmas season on December 7th by lighting candles and sending good wishes. For the Colombian au pair, Lizeth, this is the first Christmas away from home. She made it a point to remember to celebrate this tradition abroad not just alone but with her beloved host family in Texas. In turn, the host family shared perhaps the most iconic seasonal activity of all times in America: making Gingerbread Houses! It was a beautiful evening for cultural exchange during the holiday season.
Host Mom Susan Lawal shared,
Lizeth welcomed us to take part in this Colombian tradition as we lit candles and dedicated them to various things we appreciate and hope to accomplish in our lives… a new baby for example, grandparents, good health. From a foreigner’s standpoint, this is very similar to what we Americans celebrate during Thanksgiving. And in experiencing the American culture, Lizeth got to make a gingerbread house for the first time!
The host family's two-year-old toddler, Leila, especially loved being a part of this celebration. The bond between Lizeth, Leila, and the host parents grew more intimate through this shared experience of welcoming the holiday season together! Lizeth says,
I love Christmas, I couldn't let this special date go by being outside my country, every December 7 we welcome the Christmas holidays, lighting the candles "Día de las Velitas", in union with the family, sharing with people that you love, light each candle for a special reason, the people you love and your wishes. I lived one of the most beautiful moments of my life
The holiday season is a magical time for many au pairs and host families. From cooking elaborate feasts, gift-giving, and spending quality time with family and friends, it can be a huge opportunity for cultural exchange. Au pairs look forward to experiencing this festive time through the lens of an American household, and host families love partaking in their au pair’s traditions. These moments also give host children an opportunity to gain global perspectives. Lizeth and her host family is a great example of how celebrating each other’s difference may lead to finding even more similarities between cultures.
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