Christmas In Peru – La Navidad en Perú
Posted December 11, 2010on:
Christmas will soon be here and I am excited about spending my first one in Peru. It has been interesting to observe how the city has been transformed leading up to this important holiday. I was surprised when Christmas decorations started showing up in the stores and it wasn’t even Halloween yet. I thought starting to promote Christmas spending that early was only a North American thing, but it happens here as well.
The stores are filled with ornaments of every color and style, although a silver-colored Christmas tree skirt has alluded me. As I didn’t have any Christmas ornaments I got to start from scratch and design my Christmas tree in whatever color scheme I wanted. I choose silver and purple. After a bit of trauma trying to find white lights that didn’t blink, we finally got the tree decorated and it turned out quite nicely.
In public spaces throughout the city elaborate Christmas displays have been appearing over the past few weeks. One of the most prominent ones in Miraflores is the large Christmas tree in the middle of Ovalo Miraflores, in front of the department store Saga Falabella. They spent several days assembling the tree and last Saturday as we were walking by we saw that they had all the streets around the Ovalo blocked off and were setting up chairs in the street. We asked what was going on and they said it was for the lighting of the Christmas tree. The whole event appeared to be sponsored by Saga Falabella. The strange thing is that I don’t think the tree actually has lights so I am not sure what they actually meant by “lighting the Christmas tree”.
Another place that is nicely decorated is the touristy mall Larcomar. Close to our house, the Atlantic City Casino has transformed the outside of the building into a quaint Christmas village complete with snowmen and fake cotton snow!
I have been a bit surprised at how commercial Christmas is here in Peru and how many of the customs and symbols of Christmas from Europe and North America they have adopted. In Plaza Norte, the largest mall in Lima, they actually had a Santa Claus for the children to visit. This is not a typical Peruvian tradition and has been copied from the North American custom.
There is one very strong Christmas tradition here that we don’t celebrate to the same degree in North America which is the Nativity Scene. Almost every home and business has a Nativity Scene here. They come in a variety of different sizes and styles and, in addition to the human figures, usually include a number of animal figure. In some homes the tradition is to wait until midnight on Christmas Eve to place baby Jesus in the manger.
It’s a bit strange not to have cold, snowy weather yet to see all the traditional symbols of Christmas everywhere. However, even with the warm, sunny weather there is the feeling of Christmas spirit in the city and I am glad to have the opportunity to experience different Christmas traditions with new family and friends.