Unique Colombian Habits and Customs


Which of these Colombian habits or customs do you relate to the most? Do you think some of these are more regional vs. national?

1. If your mother calls your name, you certainly don’t answer “¿qué?” (What?). You respond “Señora?!?”…

Otherwise, she will immediately say “Señora, aunque se demore un poco más” (Ma’am, even if it takes a little longer). You learn that you must always respond respectfully.

2. Your favorite hard liquor,  Aguardiente, isn’t the same for all Colombians! What you drink depends on the region you grew up.

In Colombia, there are several types of ‘aguardiente’. So your favorite might be Antioqueño (tapa roja o azul), Néctar, Llanero, Tapa Roja or other, and for sure you’ve tried most of them.


3. You are always ready to eat arepas. And no matter what, you just don’t get sick of them!

You can eat all kinds of arepa, any time of day. From the plain one from Antioquia to the sweet arepa de chocolo, all are perfect for breakfast, for lunch as a side, as a snack in the afternoon with a nice hot chocolate cup or even for dinner stuffed with beef, cheese or any other ingredients.

4. You consider the best medicine for a cold or the flu is aguapanela with lots of lemon juice.

It is an infusion made from panela, a solidified subproduct from sugar cane. The panela is always present in Colombian households.

5. You know how to dance.

Even if you are not an expert, the rhythm will flow through your blood somehow. You might ever start dancing wherever there’s music, even if it’s not a party.

6. You love fútbol (soccer) and will never get over the 5-0 Colombia vs Argentina.

Once upon a time… Colombia won five goals over zero to one of the favorite teams (Argentina), during the classification round of the 1994 World Cup. You can easily relive that day in your mind.

7. And you’ve celebrated the triumph of Colombia in a soccer match throwing eggs and flour (Mayzena) at everyone on the streets.

Plus, you chant after goals is with the song “Colombia tierra querida”.

8. You have danced until dawn and got drunk in one of the many carnivals and festivities of the country.

It might have been in the Carnival of Barranquilla, Feria de Flores in Medellín, Blacks and whites Carnival in Pasto, San Pedro in Huila, Festival Vallenato in Valledupar, Feria de Cali, Feria de Manizales… and those are just the famous ones!

9. If you are invited to a friends or family reunion, you will be there at least half an hour late.

In Colombia, it’s normal to arrive late, especially to informal events. If you are on time, don’t be surprised to be by yourself for about half an hour or more.

10. You’ve heard your parents say “esto no es un hotel, mientras usted viva en esta casa se hace lo que yo digo” more times than you can recall.

It translates to “this is not a hotel, as long as you live in this house you’ll do what I say”. And they mean it, even if you are already over 18.

11. Christmas season is a synonym of eating natilla and buñuelos.

Natilla is similar to a pudding -with blackberry syrup on top- and buñuelos are fried corn flour balls with cheese. Sometimes, simple does make perfect.

12. It wasn’t Santa bringing you presents, it was Baby Jesus himself (The Niño Dios).

And you never asked how a baby could deliver them, just like other kids don’t bother worrying how fat Santa gets to every household.

13. You have run around your block carrying a suitcase on New Year’s Eve at least once, and burned a life-sized doll we call “Año Viejo”.

We Colombians believe that’s the way to make traveling wishes come true. We are also supposed to eat twelve grapes, for abundance and prosperity.  Año Viejo is stuffed with notes containing our worst memories and our greatest wishes before we burn the doll.

14. In Spanish, you express all words in the diminutive form.

We Colombians are obsessed with “little words”. Everything has a “little form”. La casita (the little house), un abracito (a little hug), un poquito (just a little), un amiguito (a little friend), un regalito (a little present)… Just put the ita/ito ending to any word and you will sound Colombian.

15. When you buy something, you ask for a present.

When you are at the store or being served food at a restaurant, the way you ask for stuff is by requesting to be given a “present” or gift. The expression, in Spanish, is “¿Me regala un tinto y un jugo?”. Outsiders shouldn’t be worried: it’s just a way to ask for things, we will pay for it in the end.

We edited these fifteen “Colombianadas” that were originally found at 24 Signs that You Were Raised in Colombia. Did we leave out any of your favorites?

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