Santander is a department located in northeastern Colombia, known for its diverse geography, history, and culture. One of the most significant aspects of Santander’s identity is its religious practices, which have influenced the local cuisine and traditional festivals.
The primary religions practiced in Santander are Catholicism and Protestantism, with smaller communities of Evangelicals and Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Catholic faith has a dominant presence in the region, with more than 90% of the population identifying as Catholics.
One of the most notable impacts of Catholicism on Santander’s cuisine is the tradition of meatless Fridays during Lent. Many dishes in the region, such as mute santandereano, rely heavily on meat, but during Lent, seafood becomes a popular substitute. Fish, shrimp, and other seafood are often incorporated into traditional recipes, such as the famous stew known as mute santandereano de bacalao.
Additionally, Catholic celebrations such as Holy Week and the Feast of Corpus Christi influence the region’s food culture. During Holy Week, many people abstain from meat and instead consume fish, eggs, and dairy products. The Feast of Corpus Christi, which takes place in June, is celebrated with traditional dishes such as arepa de huevo, a fried corn patty stuffed with boiled egg and pork.
Protestantism has also influenced Santander’s cuisine in unique ways. Many Protestant denominations discourage the consumption of alcohol, which has led to the rise of non-alcoholic beverages such as borojó juice and arrechón, a sweet drink made from panela and ginger.
Religious festivals are another important aspect of Santander’s cultural landscape, with events occurring throughout the year. The celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of Carmen, the patron saint of Girón, is a significant event in the region. During this festival, traditional food such as empanadas, buñuelos, and chicha are served, and music and dancing are central elements of the festivities.
The San Juanito festival, held in the town of Socorro, is another important religious event. This festival celebrates the Nativity of St. John the Baptist and features traditional dances, music, and food such as sancocho de gallina, a hearty chicken soup.
In conclusion, the primary religions practiced in Santander have had a profound impact on the region’s cuisine and traditional festivals. Catholicism’s influence on meatless Fridays during Lent and Holy Week has led to a greater emphasis on seafood and dairy products, while Protestantism’s abstention from alcohol has given rise to unique non-alcoholic beverages. Religious festivals provide an opportunity for locals and visitors alike to experience Santander’s rich cultural heritage and indulge in traditional dishes that have been passed down through generations.