As it happens in the different Latin American countries, the culture of Colombia is born from the union of the colonial legacy of the Spanish and the indigenous traditions of the natives. That is, it has its roots in pre-Columbian traditions. This mixture is reflected in some aspects such as music, art and literature.
But there is something that differentiates Colombia from the rest and that is that a very marked regionalism has been created by which it can be said that it is a divided society, not only by economic classes but also by the territory in which they live. This division can be noticed when comparing a cachaco (a native of the Cundiboyacense highlands) with a coastal one (a native of the Caribbean Coasts). It can be described as a multicultural country.
History of the Culture of Colombia
Before the arrival of the colonizers, Colombia was inhabited by indigenous groups called Tayrona and Muisca, these communities were dedicated to goldsmithing, but once the conquerors arrived, all this took a drastic turn, as it happened in the different regions of America .
As soon as the colonizers arrived on the coasts of Colombia, they were attracted by the wealth of the population and by the history of a city of gold where all the wealth of the indigenous were found. After tirelessly searching for this place, they found the Muiscas group who made offerings by throwing this high-value stone into the Guatavita lagoon. The great story inspired the legend of El Dorado.
After many years of Spanish rule, in 1810 Colombia achieved independence from the hand of the Venezuelan Liberator Simón Bolívar. However, in the later period known as La Violencia, a large number of civil wars developed between liberals and conservatives, a struggle for different political interests that took place between 1948 and 1958. These processes forged the Colombian culture that we know today. .
Characteristics of the culture of Colombia
As mentioned above, most Latin American cultures have a large number of aspects that differentiate them from others, however all owe their origins to indigenous ethnic groups that inhabited their lands for years and the influence of the colonizers. At this point you will be able to know the main features of Colombian culture.
The culinary arts of Colombia are very varied and rich. It is a country that enjoys a lot of fertility in its soil to have good crops. For its part, its origin dates back to pre-Columbian times and although some changes have arisen, the use of corn still stands out among almost all typical foods.
However, it is difficult to talk about a typical national dish. Each region has one that characterizes it and predominates in its diets, that is why we will mention only some of the most common: Ajiaco with Chicken, corn arepa, changua or egg broth, chicken broth with potatoes and arepas and, lastly, the paisa tray.
Traditional Colombian music has an unmatched cultural load and is born from the mixture of European, African and indigenous rhythms, however there is one that stands out above the rest and it is the vallenato. It is enjoyed by all regions of the country, in addition to sauces and cumbia.
Vallenato is a musical genre that owes its origin to the Colombian Caribbean CoastsAlthough it has an important influence from European immigration due to the fact that the accordion, a fundamental instrument in sound, was brought by Germans at the end of the 19th century. As a curious point, it should be noted that it previously had a derogatory connotation.
Colombian literature includes the productions made from the time of the New Kingdom of Granada to the present, it began to develop in the year 1519 when the first documents were found. It was not until the nineteenth century when the authors began to capture stories full of romanticism, as well as the implementation of poetry and folkloric literature.
However, this symbolism was unleashed a little more in the 20th century, when Colombian literature achieved greater growth, thanks to the so-called “Boom” generation led by the Nobel Prize winner Gabriel García Márquez, José Félix Fuenmayor and Álvaro Cepeda Samudio among others great writers who gave greatness to the letters of the coffee nation.
When we speak of Colombian archaeological heritage we have to refer to all the remains of the people of past times, in addition to pre-Hispanic objects. One of the places that keep the largest collection of representative symbols is the Gold Museum located in the capital, Bogotá.
This site opened its doors in 1939 and has a large quantity of precious metals belonging to the ancient civilizations that made life in Colombian territory, among them the Tumaco, the Muisca, the Quimbaya and the Tayrona for an approximate of 34,000 pieces. Could be considered a must see.
On the other hand, Banco de la República has six other regional museums located in Cali, Armenia, Santa Marta, Cartagena, Pasto and Leticia, which have pre-Columbian exhibits and, in some cases, with free admission for tourists to enrich themselves with cultural knowledge or if they are jewelry lovers on the outskirts of these places, replicas of the objects are usually sold.
Colombian traditions remain in force thanks to the people’s respect for their cultural richness, which results in some deeply rooted festivities that give color and personality to the coffee country, some of them belong to the Intangible Heritage of the nation. That is why it is of the utmost importance that you know them so that you can be dazzled with each of them.
Black and White Carnival
This festival takes place in San Juan de Pasto every year beginning on December 28 and ending on January 7. A tradition arose due to the rebellion of the Payanenses slaves in the seventeenth century, which demanded a day off and the Spanish conquerors granted it on January 5, the indigenous people took to the streets to celebrate with African music and then to paint the white walls of the houses black.
In this tradition, each day has its meaning starting with the Water Carnival where the streets are sprayed to achieve a playful atmosphere. However, the most important, and therefore the most representative, are the last two where the participants put on black makeup and later white allusion to social and cultural equality. It can be said that it is one of the most impressive events in the country.
Palenque de San Basilio
It is a small town located in the southwest of the regional capital of Cartagena, with a minuscule population of 3,500 inhabitants. It was founded by slaves in the seventeenth century, in this fortified place they took refuge.
In this cultural space various medical, religious and social practices are carried out, as well as musical traditions that have African origin. Another important aspect to highlight in the Palenque Cultural Space is the language, it combines the Spanish lexicon with characteristics of the Bantu. This place is usually affected by the armed conflict of the Colombian paramilitaries and the guerrillas.
This is the most important cultural and folkloric event in the country that year after year has a massive participation. The Carnival begins the Saturday before Ash Wednesday to conclude the Tuesday after. In this festival it is customary to express the cultural varieties of the coffee nation. During this event, both Barranquilla and foreigners indulge in enjoyment, dancing and drinking for four days.
This festivity has its origin in colonial times and over the years it has been mutating and evolving, even surviving times of division and controversy until it became what it is today.
Thanks to its wealth, it has been awarded two important recognitions: Cultural Heritage of the Nation granted by the Congress of Colombia and Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2001 and 2003 respectively.
Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi
It is an event held in Quibdó, the capital of Chocó, where religious expressions are presented for 15 days, starting on September 20 and ending on October 5. It can be said that it is a very regionalist celebration, but at the same time symbolic for the inhabitants of said department.
The celebration takes place in the 12 neighborhoods that make up the Quibdó municipality, which are in charge of organizing everything regarding the festival. On October 3, the image of San Francisco de Asís travels the river in rafts and the next day the procession to the saint takes place when they proceed to move throughout the neighborhood. It was not until 2012 when it was recognized as Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
Day of the candles
It is also known as night of the candles and It is one of the most outstanding festivities in Colombian Christmas and it takes place on December 7. Its origin dates back to 1854, when Pope IX proclaimed December 8 as the day of the Virgin Mary and as a show of respect many devotees made an appearance in the square of Rome carrying candles.
This custom was adopted by the Colombian people and over the years it has surpassed religious symbolism to accommodate itself as part of the cultural traditions most deeply rooted by the people. That is why every evening on December 7, families go to the most representative squares of their region with a candle as an offering to the Virgin Mary. It is common for these places to become meeting points to share.
Summer Flower Fair of Medellín
It is the most emblematic celebration in the city of Medellín, it takes place between August 2 and 11 and is a cultural icon. During these dates there is a great diversity of events in a festival environment and although not everything is related to flowers, the name encompasses all events.
The celebration contains a character typical of the region and the Paisa culture in order to perpetrate the values of Antioquia, in addition, the flowering is celebrated. All framed in the scent of sunflower, carnation, orchid or immortelle. It should be noted that the first “Flower Fair” was on May 1, 1957, because that time was the month assigned to them and was under the baton of Arturo Uribe from Antioquia.
Over the years, a large number of events have been added to the celebration, thus increasing its impact and relevance within and outside the country. Some of the activities that can be found are: The Silleteros Parade, Classic and Antique Car Parade, Concert of the Flowers, The Bicycle Rhythm Fair, Artistic Scenarios and the Plaza de las Flores, central headquarters of the festival.
Every July 20, Independence Day is commemorated, the date on which the Act of the Revolution is signed, in 1810, although the Congress of the United States of Colombia took 63 years to officially declare it. It should be noted that before the commemorative date, many declarations of independence had been made, however it was the latter that remained in the collective memory.
During this day, military marches are usually held throughout Colombia in homage to the national symbols of the nation.. In addition, as it is a holiday, it is normal for families to get together for parties, meals and enjoy good music celebrating this important date in style.
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