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Christmas in Peru

Elvi Bjorkquist - Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Delights All Over Peru on December 24-25

The birth of the infant Christ allowed early Peruvians to identify immediately with the festivity, which gave rise to artisan creativity, a sense of aesthetics and the religious devotion of Andean peoples. Andean Christmas began taking on characteristics of its own by adding elements from each region. The highlanders put together Nativity scenes in churches and homes, perform dances and plays, cook typical dishes and produce a wide range of handicrafts such as Nativity scenes in Huamanga stone, retablos featuring images related to Christmas and pottery or carved gourds called mates burilados decorated with Yuletide scenes. In most Andean communities, the festival continues until la Bajada de los Reyes (the arrival of the three wise men), January 6, when traditionally people exchange gifts.

The market of Santuranticuy in Cusco is a wonderful crafts market on the main Square of Cuzco. The Plaza comes alive on the morning of Christmas eve with crafts people selling their crafts. Artisans sell a large variety of sacred representations, woodcarvings, pottery and nativity scenes.

Galas, Laicas o Tusuq – December 24th – 28th

Province of Huancavelica

An ancient dance is still performed today which is a classical dance with a magical/religious ritual and represents characters such as the Pachamama (Earth Mother), Hananpacha (realm of the gods), and Ucupacha (underworld) as well as aspects of Andean popular life. The presentation takes place at the Church of San Francisco. 

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