Colombia is an ethnic mosaic, reflected in its culture, folklore, arts and crafts. The different roots and traditions of the Indians, Spanish and Africans have produced interesting fusions, particularly in crafts, sculpture and music. Pre-Columbian art consists primarily of stone sculpture, pottery and goldwork. Indian basketware, weaving and pottery date back to pre-Columbian times but now fuse modern techniques with traditional designs. Colombian music incorporates the African rhythms of the Caribbean, Cuban salsa, and Andean music. Colombia's literary giant is Gabriel García Márquez, whose works mix myths, dreams and reality in a style critics have dubbed 'magic realism'.
Numerous national holidays celebrate the country and its culture, and many religious holidays are celebrated as national holidays. Important church holidays include the Epiphany (6 January); Holy Week, which includes Easter (March or April); All Saints Day (1 November); the Immaculate Conception (8 December); and Christmas. Colombia also celebrates the feast days of various saints on both a national and a local level.
Feminine beauty is considered very important, and the country celebrates it each November with the crowning of Miss Colombia.
Other important national holidays are Independence Day (20 July), which celebrates the declaration of independence in 1810, and 7 August, which commemorates the Battle of Bocayá, where Bolívar defeated the Spanish. Other holidays center on regional and local cultures, such as the Carnaval of Barranquilla, the Cartagena International Caribbean Music Festival, the Medellín flower fair, and the Festival of the Devil in Rio Sucio.
Amongst all the Colombia sports, soccer undoubtedly holds a special position in the hearts of the Colombians. As a matter of fact, the Colombian national soccer team has qualified for the World Cup Finals in 1962, 1990, 1994, and 1998.
Like most countries, there has been a raging rivalry between a couple of teams that incidentally belong to each of the three major cities of Colombia. The first pair of teams is America and Deportivo in the city of Cali. The second pair is Santa Fe and Millonarios of Colombian capital city of Bogota. The third pair of teams is Nacional Independiente and Deportivo Independiente.
Although soccer remains the king of spectator sports in Colombia, basketball and baseball are beginning to occupy a larger piece of the national conscience. Among other growing sports in Colombia, motor racing is one of the most prominent. Additionally, bicycle racing is very popular in Colombia. In the 'Vuelta de Colombia', the largest professional cycling event in Colombia, participants have to traverse a distance of approximately 1200 miles in a span of 12 days.
Another popular sport in Colombia is tejo, a game inspired bythe Chibcha Indians. This game bears a lot of similarity with another sport called quoits. The Colombians also enjoy bull fights and gambling at Government-sponsored lotteries.
Most middle-class families eat elaborate meals that reflect Spanish and indigenous traditions. A typical meal is identified by size rather than content, such as a light breakfast, a substantive midday lunch, and a lighter meal in the early evening. Dinner consists of fresh fruit, homemade soup, and a main dish with meat or fish accompanied by rice and/or potatoes. Lower-income people eat a more carbohydrate-rich diet. Meals usually end with a very sweet dessert, frequently made from panela, a type of brown sugar.
There are regional differences in foods. In the interior rural regions, a hearty breakfast consists of a strip of pork, rice and beans, sweet plantains, and a large steak with fried eggs. Dinner is similar, except for the eggs. In the coastal region, the emphasis is on seafood. In Cartagena, the typical lunch consists of rice with coconut, fried plantains, and shrimp. Colombians enjoy a variety of national and international cuisines.
Specialty dishes are eaten during holidays. A dish associated with the capital is ajiaco, a stew with three types of potato, chicken, and corn that is served with capers, cream, and avocado. Another dish served during religious holidays is pasteles, while along the coast, people eat sancocho, a fish or chicken stew. Colombians consume large quantities of beer and coffee and relatively little milk or wine. Aguardiente combines local rum and a corn of sugar brandy.