“Winter is coming” or so everyone tells me.

I’m from Colombia, a country with absolutely no seasons, so it’s baffling how it can suddenly rain soft ice. I’ve never been able to enjoy what I’ve seen in movies my whole life, a wonderful “White Christmas”. This won’t be the case this year either, as I’m going back home for the holidays.

During my winter break, I’ll see my friends and family and have wonderful food. In Colombia, we usually have a series of celebrations leading to the day of Christmas, one of which is called “novenas” (ninths or nines), and consists of traditional foods, prayers and chants on the nine days prior to the 24th of December. It might sound a bit religious, but it’s mostly a social gathering, ideal for catching up with all the wonderful people I haven’t seen in four months.

There are many other traditions, like on December 6th we celebrate what we call Candle Day or Día de las Velitas, in which it is customary for children to make decorative torches and light candles inside of them at night, this is done outdoors, and usually marks a chilly night. It usually brings candlelit memories of dark nights outdoors, followed by great homecooked meals surrounded by friends and family. All kinds of wonderful desserts are made for Christmas, my personal favorite is called buñuelo, which is a ball made out of fried dough. It’s sweet and spongy, and it’s the number one thing I wish I knew how to make from back home.

After Christmas, I’ll be celebrating New Year’s with my closest friends and family, during which we participate in a number of traditional customs to ensure the coming year is full of good fortune. One of our traditions is to pack a travel bag with clothes for your preferred weather, put a few of them on, and then run around your block right after new year. It’s supposed to make you travel to the place of liking, provided that it has the right weather for your clothes. So, you can imagine I went around my block wearing a thick winter coat in preparation for my trip to Canada.

Another custom is to put women’s jewelry in champagne glasses. This is to ensure they receive more jewelry in the coming year and that they’re successful and prosperous in their endeavors.

One of my favourite traditions is to stuff your pockets with raw lentils to promote prosperity in the coming year. It’s fun because you’ll find lentils just about everywhere after you do this.

Finally, a tradition we do for setting goals is to eat 12 grapes before the coming of the new year. This is usually done in the last minutes of the year with the idea that you eat grape for every month of the coming year, and think about what you want to achieve during that month.

That only covers the basics of the things I do for good luck in the new year, and I can assure you that the best one is to make sure you’re surrounded by the right people. After all that is done, I’ll pack my stuff, get on another plane, and be back at Brock for the beginning of a whole new adventure! The real winter, and the winter term!

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