Latin America & Caribbean

The Afro-Colombian village which celebrates Christmas in February

Afro-Colombians hold a basket with "Nino Dios" (God Child) inside in Quinamayo, department of Valle del Cauca, Colombia, on February 18, 2018. Image copyright AFP
Image caption At the centre of the celebrations is a wooden statue of baby Jesus

Residents of the Colombian village of QuinamayĆ³ have been celebrating Christmas with a procession featuring a statue of a black baby Jesus.

Villagers say the tradition dates back to the days of slavery when their ancestors were banned from marking Christmas on 24 December.

They chose mid-February instead and the tradition has been preserved ever since.

Fireworks, music and dance all form part of the colourful celebrations.

"The people who enslaved us celebrated in December and we were not allowed to have that day off, but were told to choose another day," the event's co-ordinator, Holmes Larrahondo, said.

An Afro-Colombian girl in an angel costume takes part in the "Adoraciones al Nino Dios" celebrations in Quinamayo, department of Valle del Cauca, Colombia, on February 18, 2018. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Villagers say the young generation has been key in preserving the tradition

"In our community we believe that a woman has to fast for 45 days after giving birth, so we celebrate Christmas not in December but in February, so Mary can dance with us," Mr Larrahondo added.

Fifty-three-year-old teacher Balmores Viafara told Agence France Press news agency that as a result 24 December for him is "like any other day", while the Adorations, as the celebrations are called, are "a party at which we pay respect to our God in our way".

As part of the celebrations, villagers go round the houses "searching" for baby Jesus, who is represented by a wooden statue which is kept safe by one of the villagers in her home for the rest of the year.

Once the statue has been found, it is paraded around the village by residents of all ages dressed up as angels and soldiers.

Dancers perform a dance called fuga (escape) in which they imitate the shuffling steps of the shackled slaves.

The festivities end in the early hours of the morning.

Afro-Colombian children in costumes take part in the "Adoraciones al Nino Dios" celebrations in Quinamayo, department of Valle del Cauca, Colombia, on February 18, 2018. Image copyright AFP
Image caption The tradition dates back to the days of slavery
Afro-Colombians dance "Fuga" (Traditional dance) during the "Adoraciones al Nino Dios" celebrations, in Quinamayo, department of Valle del Cauca, Colombia, on February 18, 2018. Image copyright AFP
Image caption A "Fuga" dance remembers the steps of shackled slaves
A man records fireworks with his mobile phone during the "Adoraciones al Nino Dios" celebrations in Quinamayo, department of Valle del Cauca, Colombia, on February 18, 2018. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Fireworks play a big part in the celebrations

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