"Christmas Around the World" logoNovember 2003-January 2004
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Peruvian flag Feliz Navidad
Peruvian tree
click on photo for
enlarged view

Christmas in Peru is a mixture of Indian and Spanish traditions. People travel for many miles to set up areas
in the city to sell their wares and the markets become very crowded. The native merchants spread their toys, trinkets and delicacies on mats on the ground while shoppers look for small gifts for family members or perhaps a new piece for their nacimiento, or nativity scene. The figure might be fashioned from rags, colored wool, and paper, a modeling method dating back to the sixteenth century. Ice stalls may be set up to cool shoppers as the weather is apt to be hot and sultry.

On Christmas Eve the city streets are also filled with strolling musicians wearing masks. There is much merrymaking, with large parties and dancing intermixed with beautiful religious processions. Then at the stroke of Midnight, the celebration becomes solemn as most people attend Midnight Mass. Following the church service, celebrations may continue in the streets with carolers going from house to house singing to the accompaniment of guitars and castanets.

Christmas trees and greenery are found in the mountain areas of Peru so if they are to be used during the holiday season, they must be transported from the mountains to the more populated areas. Christmas tree ornaments may show the country's ethnic and cultural diversity with brightly colored parrots, llamas, and even seals mingled with traditional European decorations. The handknit ornaments on our Peruvian tree are on loan to us from Patrick Wildenberg.

On Christmas Day, Peruvians living near Lima might choose to attend the biggest bull fight of the year or some families may use the day to go to the mountains or the beach to escape the midsummer heat. Gifts will not be shared until later on January 6, the feast of the Three Kings and the official end of the Christmas season in Peru.