While the rest of the world celebrates Valentine’s Day every February 14th, the south American nation of Colombia doesn’t. Instead, they have El Dia de Amor y Amistad (the day of love and friendship). So how did this celebration start, and why is it so important to Colombians around the world?
What is El Dia de Amor y Amistad?
El Dia de Amor y Amistad is a celebration day in Colombia when lovers and friends share gifts, letters and tokens of appreciation. Unlike Valentine’s day, the gesture doesn’t have to be romantic.
There’s also the long-held tradition of sending amigos secretos (secret friendship letters). To understand this, think Secret Santa mixed with a secret admirer note.
How did El Dia de Amor y Amistad start?
The origin of El Dia de Amor y Amistad dates back to ancient Rome and Pope Gelasius 1 in AD 496. It was once celebrated on the Feast of Saint Valentine’s and indeed fell on February 14th.
It’s unclear when friendship was added to the festivities but in 1969, Colombia moved the date to September at the request of merchants.
The change was supposedly made for two reasons. Firstly, so that local traders could sell more roses and chocolates in an attempt to help boost the economy. And secondly, to avoid the school season. September was chosen because Colombia didn’t have any other holidays in that month at the time.
When is El Dia de Amor y Amistad celebrated?
On the third Saturday of September. In 2020, El Dia de Amor y Amistad falls on September 19th. In reality, the celebrations for the day of love and friendship have been known to take over the whole month of September.
From the end of August people start decorating their shops, restaurants and homes with hearts and balloons in preparation for ‘Colombian Valentine’s Day’.
Another custom in the lead up to El Dia de Amor y Amistad is the endulzada. This comes from the Spanish verb endulzar, which means to sweeten. It involves the sharing of sweets and candies between friends and loved ones in the weeks just before the big day.
Why is El Dia de Amor y Amistad such a big deal in Colombia?
Love is universal. For Colombians, however, El Dia de Amor y Amistad is treated with a sense of national pride. That’s because celebrating love and friendship on the third Saturday of September is unique to their country.
In Colombia, El Dia de Amor y Amistad is on par with Christmas and Halloween. No matter what your age or marital status is, El Dia de Amor y Amistad is for everyone in the country.
And for this reason, it’s seen as an opportunity for those who have left the country to transfer money to family in Colombia or send gifts back home.
What to get someone for El Dia de Amor y Amistad
As El Dia de Amor y Amistad approaches, it’s time to get your thinking caps on. Here’s our list of gift ideas to send to your loved ones:
- Chocolates – because everyone loves chocolates.
- A Wayuu mochila bag – a hand-woven, brightly coloured handbag typical of the indigenous Wayuu people.
- Bon Bon Bum – a popular brand of Colombian lollipops with chewing gum in the middle.
- An emerald – the country’s most precious natural gemstone and a gift that can be used to customise jewellery for your friend or loved one.
- Send cash to Colombia instantly with Azimo – a simple cash gift can make a difference to anyone’s life.
How will Colombians celebrate this year?
As well as the parade of romantic dinners and roses, it’s also a day for friends and family to get together. From Bogota to Medellin, Colombia’s parks and streets will be filled with the sound of celebrations.
For Colombians based abroad, why not take advantage of our special El Dia de Amor y Amistad offer?
Azimo is offering new customers £10 off money transfers to Colombia over £200. All you have to do is register with Azimo and enter the code AMOR10 to get your £10 voucher.
And existing users will get £30 every time they refer a friend to Azimo. Even better, your friend will get £20 as well.
*New customers have between September 14th and 21st 2020 to make their first transfer to be eligible for the full offer. Referrals by existing customers need to be made between September 7th and 30th 2020 to qualify for our £30/£20 offer.