A sweet tradition during Easter Holy Week (Semana Santa)

Vendor selling home-made sweets at Villa Country Mall during Semana Santa. Photo Credit: Mike Chartrand

Holy Sweet Season

During Lent and the Easter season, Barranquilleros enjoy the most delicious sweets. These candies and treats are home-made, and have become a popular tradition in the city during this special time of year. Enjoy the combination of the sweets and the breeze while taking a walk around the city this Holy season.

Street vendors prepare their sweets at home, in the family tradition. Samira Perez, a 32 year old vendor who each year sells sweets from the sidewalk, learned how to prepare these delightful sweetmeats at the young age of 12, when her grandmother, María Valdez, taught her. Samira’s grandma came to Barranquilla from San Basilio de Palenque a long time ago, and although she is now in her 90s, she still helps prepare the sweets each year. Even though Samira was born in Barranquilla, she is proud of her roots and says that she is a Palenquera like her grandmother. Making and selling candy isn’t an easy job; they start preparing early each morning, around 4:00 am, and then they go to their stands where they sit all day and evening, returning home late at night to sleep and start again the next day.

Coconut with milk, papaya, Ñame (Yam), corozo, pineapple with papaya, mamey (mamme apple), and mango, are just a sampling of the many tasty flavors you can find in these stands. All of these fruit flavors are typical of the coastal region of Colombia. Perhaps the most popular sweet is Mongo-Mongo, a mix of tropical fruits such as: Mamey, mango, pineapple, plantain, guava, papaya, coconut and then sweetened more with raw cane sugar. Mongo-Mongo represents the Colombian people’s variety, and the mix that makes this country colorful, tasty and sweet.

Prices are quite reasonable. For example, a small plastic cup costs only $1,000. And if you’re addicted to sweets, or want to share them with your family, a big bowl can cost up to $20,000. Plaza de La Paz and Parque Surisalcedo are just two of the locations where the sweets festival takes place, but it is quite normal to see a vendor like Samira selling these delicacies almost everywhere around the city during this season.

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Carlos Guerra is a person who loves writing. His experience teaching Spanish to foreigners and his job as a Language and Culture Facilitator for the Peace Corps was his motivation to start writing about Barranquilla’s culture. He considers himself an ambassador of the Caribbean culture and Colombia. He loves teaching English and Spanish and enjoys learning from different cultures.