The “City of the Light” is in South America and that is Medellin in December
By Albeiro Rodas | Picture by Carlos17.
If the artists did call Paris as the “City of the Light”, such title is transferred in December across the Ocean to the streets of a South American city: Medellin, Colombia.
Every 8th of December the city dresses its best colors. Light takes possession of the streets. Moon is not needed to contemplate the night full of beautiful Christmas works at mega levels of international admiration.
It is not something new that was coming from the recent tourist boom of the Andean city. It is an old tradition that in 2007 is 40 years old, which author is the Public Services Enterprises of Medellin (EEPP), one of the biggest enterprise of services in South America.
But so much expending of light in December has many reasons: Medellin is located in one of the first regions in production of energy in Colombia, with some hydroelectric dams of mega proportions like the Guatapé Dam. At the other hand, the tradition of fill the city with light como Dios manda (as God commands), comes from a deep Catholic tradition in Medellin, that city that was said by John Paul II in 1986 that if he had to move the Vatican, he would move it to Medellin – and he said that in one of the most difficult decades for the city.
On 8th December the Catholic Church celebrates what is traditionally called in Colombia the “passing by of the Virgin”, when Joseph and Mary let Nazareth to Bethlehem to follow the orders of the Emperor that made that Jesus or Niño Dios (the “Baby God” as it is said in Antioquia) was born in Bethlehem. While the municipality inaugurates the electric Christmas lights in the most popular and central areas of the city, the houses in the streets put during the 8th December night candles on the doors to honor the devotion of Mary as the Mother of Jesus while the neighbors in every street get agreements to adorn their places doing competitions to gain the most beautiful street of the barrio and other Christmas festivities.
The tradition is not centered only in Medellin. The nearby cities of the Metropolitan Area come into a competition for the most beautiful Christmas lights of the Aburra Valley. Such things make that people go from town to town to sightsee the works, from the Envigado Central Park to the one of Bello, going to Itaguí to see what they did this year, visiting Caldas and Barbosa, trips facilitated by the Medellin Metro. But the 40 years already initiative of the Paisas has been followed already in other cities of Colombia. Today it is possible to talk about the Christmas light works of cities like Bogotá, Cali and Pereira that start to compete with that city that was called by the Andean Musician Grupo Suramerica that said in one of its songs “Medellin, Firefly of Colombia.”
The Christmas Lights of Medellin 2007
The Christmas Lights of Medellin 2007 are dedicated to the “Christmas Museum” with items related to Christmas in many countries of the world. 26 parks have this year electrical lights plus the traditional sites like La Playa Avenue, the Oriental Avenue, the Nutibara Hill, the Cisneros Park and many others. The Antioquia Museum has free entrances during 7th and 8th December to pay a homage to the City of the Light.