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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas, Peruvian Style

Feliz Navidad!  Unless you are Spanish, you are not saying it right.  It is actually more like Felis Nabidad.  But said really fast.   I ventured out this morning and did not have the best of Christmas experiences.  First of all I sweat more than I ever had in life for about 3 hours.  I still am and I have been home for 90 minutes.  Not used to that.  Secondly, while I am used to busy stores, at home, nothing compared to this!  Wall to wall people and NO Christmas spirit or kindness or regard for humanity.  While you may think it is like this in Canada too, you just have no idea.  Take my word for it.  I did a lot of swearing today!   Although, my main purpose for going out was to walk to a pet store a couple miles away to get the cats a new scratching pad for Christmas, I found them something else... Go ahead and judge, I don't care!

Anyway, I have learned over the last few weeks, that Christmas here is different than at home.  I'm not really planning on following many of the traditions, but it is interesting to see how other people in the world celebrate.  I did some research, to get everything right, and in the process learned some new things.  So here it goes, a quick overview of a Peruvian Christmas~

  •  while North American influence is getting stronger here, especially in the area that I live in, Christmas trees are not very common.  More common here are Nativity scenes.  Fairly traditional, but some have llamas and alpacas instead of the traditional donkeys, camels etc.
  • Most families have turkeys as their main course like we do, but some have roast suckling pig, fish, or roast wild chicken ,depending on the location.  Tamales and Applesauce are also found at every Christmas table.
  • The dessert, instead of pie, is a traditional Christmas cake called Panetón, it is similar to our Christmas fruit cake, with raisins and candied fruit.  In the grocery stores, there are whole aisles, both sides, with about 20 different brands of these.  We got one in our box of stuff from the company, but I gave it to the maid today.
  • They eat the panetón with hot chocolate seasoned with cinnamon and cloves.  Even when it is this hot!
  • Christmas is mostly celebrated hereon Christmas Eve or La Noche Buena (the good night).  Families generally get together during the day of the 24th and go for a walk in the square where there are sometimes festivities and choirs, or they go to homes of friends and family. 
  • At about 10pm that night, the more devout citizens go to a mass called the Misa de Gallo (the rooster's mass), while everyone else sets of fireworks, drinks and parties in the streets.  I have heard these aren't just normal fireworks, but insane deafening, crazy fireworks (I'll try to get some good pictures of the celebrations tonight).
  • Next, at the stroke of midnight, everyone heads inside and either has their big turkey dinner (can you imagine having that huge Christmas feast at midnight?) or let the children open their gifts.  These two events are interchangeable, depending on the family.  
  • After this is all over, the kids are sent to bed and the fun really begins!  The adults will generally clear out there living rooms and party and salsa dance until the sun comes up!
  • Christmas day is mostly spent sleeping and getting over the hangover from the night before, and spending more time with family.
  • There is of course Santa Claus, or Niño Jesus or Papa Navidad as he is called here.  He hit on me at the grocery store again today ;)
There are different traditions, amongst communities all over Peru and one of my favorite is the village of Santo Tomas which as week long parade and festival called Takanakuy.  At the end of the week, on Christmas day, there is a town wide brawl, were people settle their differences from the previous year.
Check out the link I have included to learn more about it.  Sounds pretty awesome to me!  Peru's Takanakuy Festival.

There are also some interesting New Year's traditions, but we will save those for next week!  Josh ended up getting the day off for Christmas, so we will maybe head to the beach or just relax.  We thought that we would be home for Christmas, so most of our presents for each other are in Maine, but we got each other a few things to open and I am cooking a (free) turkey tonight as well so we can have turkey buns tomorrow.

Here are some photos I have taken over the last couple weeks of some Christmas decorations and delicious Christmas baking that I have found mostly around Miraflores.

 A christmas tree at the entrance to the airport made of suitcases.  Sponsored by LAN, one of Peru's biggest airlines.

a decorated tree and Nativity scene in Tarapoto

In the lobby of our building

The tree at Larcomar

cute oreo elf

the tree and festive stuffed animals at our vet office

really cute cupcakes

A Coke display in the toothpaste aisle

at a cute gift store.  The vulture stole Rudolph and Santa is upset

At a bakeshop I walked by

At the hostel where we do our cooking classes

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