Christmas in Cusco, Peru
I have been told that the celebration of Christmas in Cusco, Peru, begins with dressing-up the city in colored lights and garlands. These can be seen everywhere, from the balconies of the houses on Monumental mountain to the streets around the main square. The decorations envelope the city in a warm festive ambiance.
On December 24th, hundreds of artisans from Cusco and the surrounding towns gather in Cusco’s main square to lay their blankets on the sidewalks and sell carved Nativity hanicrafts. This temporary market traditionally dates back to the days of the Spanish Vice-royalty. It is called Santuranticuy, meaning “saints for sale”, and it is one of the largest arts and crafts fairs in Peru.
The central figure of this Christmas fair is the Niño Manuelito, the Andean version of the newborn Jesus. Besides the baby Manuelito, you’ll find the other Nativity figures, all with an Andean touch, as well as images of the Catholic saints. Many artisans are selling little boxed scenes, known as retablos, whose small figurines can represent almost every aspect of life, secular or sacred, though the most popular at this time of year are the Nativity scenes. See some retablos here.
Through the years, this special Christmas fair has expanded beyond Christmas figurines to include other goods such as antiques, silverware, decorative ceramic objects, wood and bark crafts, miniatures and filigrees, silverware, stone crafts, stone sculptures, paintings, and Niños Manuelitos.
If you’re visiting at night, you’ll want to try some ponche, the warm, sweet traditional rum drink that the street vendors sell to warm up on chilly Peruvian nights.
Have you ever been to Cusco? Please tell us more about it in the comments!
- The recipe for ponche and other Peruvian foods
- A Peruvian girl coloring page
- A Peruvian boy coloring page
- Discover Cusco – more information
- Printable map of Peru and South America
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