Christmas Festivities in Peru
As for every city and country in South America, Christmas represents a very important holiday in the calendar since a vast majority of Peruvians are Christian and, with such a large population, you should expect noise and lots of fun if you visit Peru during these holidays.
While most celebrations are similar to those in the western world, you will find some unique traditions that represent a direct reflection of the nation’s cultural identity and history. All these traditions make Peru a very special place to spend these holidays.
Even if you aren’t religious, you will find it hard not to get caught up in the beauty of the celebration, being a great opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture and tradition of this amazing country.
Peru’s weather in December
In the highlands of Andean areas, the rain is likely to increase during this month. Places like Huaraz, Cusco, Machu Picchu or the Titicaca Lake will enjoy an increase in rainfall, with temperatures that oscillate between 7°C and 20°C.
Meanwhile, in the desert strip and the coast, December means much more sun and heat than previous months. Places like Mancora, Trujillo, Lima, Paracas or Arequipa will enjoy this sunny and warm weather, with temperatures oscillating between 18° C and 24° C
If your plan includes a visit to the Amazon rainforest, December marks the start of the rain season, increasing the rainfall but staying warm and humid throughout the entire year. Places like Iquitos, Tarapotos, Manú or Puerto Maldonado will have temperatures that fluctuate between 22° C and 31° C
Noche Buena (How is Christmas Celebrated in Peru) (Christmas Eve)
In places like North America, Christmas is typically celebrated on December 25th. However, in South America and especially in places like Peru, Venezuela or Bolivia make a bigger deal of that night of December 24th, a night the locals refer to as Noche Buena.
This evening is filled with food, joy, and entertainment for locals and foreigners that decide to join the celebration. This particular date is particularly special since is an opportunity to share with the family, eating, drinking and celebrating.
Fireworks are the main part of the festivities in Peru and almost in every country in Latin America. During the weeks before Noche Buena and even after it, you will find people walking around the streets selling fireworks.
Although they are technically prohibited for public use, these fun items can be bought for almost everyone in the street, and due to the size of the celebration (almost like an American 4th of July), people do not hesitate to buy as many as they possibly can.
Santurantikuy and Cusco’s Plaza de Armas (Main Square)
Santuranticuy, which means “sale of saints”, is a festival held annually on Christmas Eve in Cusco. This massive outdoor marketplace sets up the city mood being the celebrations of the holiday. Between the articles sold in this beautiful market dolls, sculptures and figurines are among the most popular items, used as decoration for the nativity scenes found in almost every Peruvian home during this time of the year.
Black Christmas in Chincha and Cañete
Christmas in Chincha and Canete, both part of the southern region of Peru, is celebrated differently, being called Navidad Negra or Black Christmas. Locals dress in traditional costumes and dance all night to celebrate the birth of Jesus. The traditional music heard during the festivities are a mixture of Andean melodies with Spanish lyrics and African dancing styles. Music mixed with a different mixture of Andean melodies, Spanish lyrics, and African dancing style.
This particular region has the same gastronomic costumes as the rest of Peru, although on the day following Christmas Eve, they serve breakfast based on tamales, chicharrones, and sweet potato.
Traveling in Peru during Christmas
The affluence of visitors tends to decrease during this time of the year since it represents the beginning of the rain season in most parts of the country. Peruvians are on the move during these days, so if you are planning to visit during this season, it is highly recommended to book flights or a bus tickets few days in advance. Keep in mind that Peruvians tend to flock the whole coast during this season because is in this month in which begins the summer, with an increase in heat and sun.
Written by: Agnys Orellana