‘Es una celebración de regocijo’: Christmas festival celebrates 15th year of highlighting Latin American culture in Philadelphia

Executive Director of Accion Colombia, Leity Rodriguez-Largo (second from right), alongside her colleagues and volunteers of Sal y Dulce. (Johnny Perez-Gonzalez/WHYY)

Executive Director of Accion Colombia, Leity Rodriguez-Largo (second from right), alongside her colleagues and volunteers of Sal y Dulce. (Johnny Perez-Gonzalez/WHYY)

Sal y Dulce, an annual Christmas festival hosted by Accion Colombia in Philadelphia celebrated its fifteenth year Sunday. The nonprofit organization aims to preserve Colombian and all Latin American culture across the tri-state area.

According to organizers, Sal y Dulce is meant to bring Latinos from all countries and backgrounds together to celebrate the holidays. It featured traditional Latin American dishes like tres leches, arepas, chicharrones, and tamales. Along with the food, there was entertainment that included traditional dances, singing, and poetry.

“Es una celebración de regocijo. Es una celebración de luz. De luz a la vida. Sí, me siento muy feliz,”  said Executive Director of Accion Colombia, Leity Rodriguez-Largo while expressing her excitement about the event.

“Muy Feliz, muy feliz. Tengo mucha gratitud porque este año podamos nosotros conectar de nuevo y hablar.”

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“It is a celebration of rejoicing. It is a celebration of light. From light to life. Yes, I feel very happy.” Rodriguez-Largo said.

“Very happy, very happy. I am very grateful that this year we can connect again and talk.”

Accion Colombia was formed in 2010, and has since created partnerships with other civic and social groups to promote culture, education, and recreation.

Temple University student Valeria Birbe, 22, traveled to the United States for school. She said events similar to Sal y Dulce are essential to keeping culture and small businesses alive.

“I think events like these are actually really important to unite everybody as Latinos, to help small businesses like people and businesses are trying to grow.” Birbe said.

Birbe said being away from her family can be tough, especially during this time of year, but that she feels at home in Philadelphia thanks to groups like Accion Colombia, and other nonprofits like Gente De Venezuela and Allianza Latina.

Marysol Suárez (far right) is joined by her family as characters from the film Encanto to represent Colombia. (Johnny Perez-Gonzalez/WHYY)
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Marysol Suarez is a Colombian mother of two from Philadelphia. She’s a member of the Accion Colombia and leant her artistic talents Sunday by replicating the Casa Madrigal from the Disney film ‘Encanto,’ after the non-profit appreciated similar work she made for her children’s school.

“What I like most about the movie is that they show everything about my country, like traditions, their food, but especially the value of the family,” Suarez said.

Rodriguez-Largo said the main goal of Sal y Dulce is to foster unity among all Latino, while also preserving and passing down traditions to the next generation.

“This is the way to teach our children where they come from. We think it’s very important that we don’t lose the language,” said Rodriguez-Largo.

Accion Colombia also holds immigration conferences and annual activities like the Colombian mobile consulate and naturalization classes.

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