I love Christmas wherever I am in the world from Christmas music to Christmas trees and decorations to the general spirit of joy and cheer. In Peru, specifically, there’s always an inkling of home with similarities to Christmases in the Philippines, likely because both Peru and the Philippines share a strong Catholic influence from Spanish conquistadors. I remember that these are the things that stood out on my first Peru trip that spanned the Christmas holidays:
- Noche Buena (literally, “Good Night” in English) – I’m a sucker for good food, so one of the highlights of my Peru vacation was staying up until midnight the night of Christmas Eve for this big feast.
- Papa Noel – More of a celebrity that a jolly old man who gives gifts, Papa Noel (Spanish for “Santa Claus”) plays a smaller role in Latin America. If he happens to be stopping by your house, he’s more likely to get into your house through the window than through a chimney (as chimneys are not common in Peruvian home construction).
- Nativity Scenes – Many families have small nativity scenes in their homes that depict the birth of Jesus. In fact, a popular souvenir is the Peruvian retablo originating from Ayacucho, hand-crafted mini dioramas in a small house-like structure showing nativity scenes or traditional customs in Peru (see the image above that also has scenes of festivals, including musical instruments and masks from traditional dances; other souvenir ideas include items made of llama, alpaca or vicuña wool such as a vicuña scarf from Peru).
Whether you visit Peru to spend Christmas here or plan your Peru trip for another time in the year, you may be surprised by all of the traditions and customs that are different from or similar to your own!
From the bottom of our humble Cusco travel agency’s heart, Peru Travel With Purpose wishes you a very Merry Christmas and Feliz Navidad!