Colombian Holidays: A Guide to Festivals & Days Off in 2018 + 2019
We want to provide an overview of the major holidays + festivals in Colombia in 2018 + 2019. We should have a section with the major ones + explanations and dates and then just list the smaller ones with their dates.
Assumption of Mary – August 20, 2018
This holiday is a commemoration of Mary’s death and subsequent assumption into heaven. Though some people believe Mary ascended into heaven, this is not correct. Jesus Christ was the one who ascended into heaven. Meanwhile, Mary was taken to heaven by God.
Columbus Day – October 15, 2018
Like in the United States, Columbus Day is a celebration of the first day that Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World. This holiday is not exclusive to Colombia; it’s also celebrated throughout a great deal of the Carribean and other parts of Latin America.
All Saints’ Day – November 5, 2018
This holiday commemorates every Christian saint. In the Roman Catholic tradition, All Saints’ Day is a holy day of obligation. Catholics are required to attend mass on this date, unless they have a valid reason for not attending, like an illness.
Independence of Cartagena – November 12, 2018
Cartagena was the first city in Colombia to declare its independence from the Spanish government. It’s normally celebrated on November 11, but since that date falls on a Sunday this year, the celebration was moved to Monday, November 12. The festivities include a great deal of parades, most notably in Cartagena itself.
Immaculate Conception Day – December 8, 2018
This national holiday is a celebration of the Virgin Mary’s immaculate conception. It also celebrates the belief that Mary did not commit any original sin. December 7 tends to mark the beginning of the Colombia Christmas season. Late on December 7, people will put candles and paper lanterns on their porches and in public parks. On December 8, Colombian houses will generally fly a white flag bearing the Virgin Mary’s image.
Christmas – December 25, 2018
Christmas Day is a national celebration of the birth of Jesus. In many worldwide countries, December 25 is considered a public holiday. In Colombia, however, Christmas is celebrated throughout the entire month of December. Medellin has an annual celebration through its Christmas lights, usually shown from the beginning of December to the beginning of January.
New Year’s Day – January 1, 2019
New Year’s Day is celebrated by most countries throughout the world. Traditionally, the holiday will be celebrated with fireworks shown at midnight. Colombia’s celebrations usually include fireworks displays in pueblos throughout the cities.
Epiphany – January 6, 2019
Along with Christmas and Easter, Epiphany is a major religious holiday in Colombia. It celebrates the time in which Jesus was presented to the three wise men. Some Colombian families have a tradition of leaving their Christmas tree up until after this date. The twelve days between Christmas and Epiphany are traditionally called the Twelve Days of Christmas.
Saint Joseph’s Day – March 19, 2019
Saint Joseph’s Day is a celebration of the husband of the Virgin Mary, and the adoptive father of Jesus. Joseph is the Catholic Church’s patron saint, as well as the patron saint of workers, immigrants, fathers, and unborn children.
Maundy Thursday – April 18, 2019
This holy day is celebrated not just throughout Colombia, but through the rest of the world. It is a commemoration of the last supper Jesus Christ had with his disciples. Maundy Thursday is held on the Thursday between Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Many Colombians take the entire week off work.
Good Friday – April 19, 2019
Good Friday is a commemoration of the day that Jesus Christ was crucified. People observe the holiday on the Friday that precedes Easter Sunday. For Roman Catholics, this is a fast day, so participants only eat one meal and abstain from consuming meat.
Labor Day – May 1, 2019
In the United States, Labor Day is the first Monday in September. However, in Colombia and in many other countries, Labor Day is celebrated on May 1. It’s also known as International Workers’ Day and May Day.
Ascension Day – May 30, 2019; observed June 3, 2019
Ascension Day celebrates when Jesus rose into heaven after spending 40 days on the earth following his resurrection. The New Testament states that this took place in front of his disciples. In Colombia, Ascension Day celebrations occur on the Monday following the ascension date.
Corpus Christi – June 20, 2019; observed June 24, 2019
This is a celebration of the holiness of Jesus Christ. Corpus Christi refers to the Body of Christ. It also defines the Eucharist components including Holy Communion. This day was declared a holiday in 1264 by Pope Urban IV.
Sacred Heart – July 1, 2019
Sacred Heart is another religious holiday. This one commemorates Jesus Christ’s physical heart to symbolize the divine love he had for all of humanity. Colombians always celebrate the holiday on a Monday.
Saint Peter and Saint Paul Day – June 29, 2019; observed July 1, 2019
This holiday is a commemoration of Saint Peter and Saint Paul’s martyrdoms. It’s one of the oldest holidays denoted in the Christian calendar, with celebrations dating back to the 4th century.
Colombia Independence Day – July 20, 2019
July 20, 1810 was the day that there was an uprising in Bogota. This is nationally viewed as the beginning of Colombia’s independence. Every year, people celebrate Colombian Independence Day on July 20. Marches and parades occur all over the country.
Battle of Boyaca Day – August 7, 2019
This date celebrates the Battle of Boyaca, which took place on August 7, 1819. This victory was a deciding factor in Colombia’s war for independence.