Feliz Navidad – Christmas in Peru

Christmas is just around the corner, so we wanted to share with you how the special holiday is celebrated in Peru.

Just as in most Latin American countries, the most celebrated part of Christmas is “La Noche Buena”. It literally translates to “the good night” and is set on the evening of December 24th. “La Noche Buena” symbolizes the night in which Baby Jesus was born. Religious Peruvians will go to church in the evening, come back home to have a fancy dinner with the family, and patiently wait for midnight. As the clock hits 12 am fireworks start off and everyone can finally open their presents. Usually children will go to bed shortly afterwards, because it’s far beyond their bedtime, and adults party all through the night while celebrating the highest of Christian holidays. Because of that, December 25thusually is a day were everyone sleeps in late. Children play with their new toys, but apart from that the cities are relatively quiet.

Christmas dinner may vary from family to family, but commonly Peruvians have big turkeys with applesauce, potatoes and, panetón. Panetón is a sweet bread with raisins and other candied fruits inside. Typically the dish is served with hot chocolate made out of chocolate bars and with cream on top.

The warm Peruvian weather might feel a little odd for Christmas. There are things that might appear familiar as well, considering the Spanish brought their traditions to this country while ruling over it. For example, Christmas trees and manger scenes. Most families have nativity scenes in their living rooms. Consisting of European mangers, the figures feature both Joseph and Mary, Three Wise Men, and shepherds. Baby Jesus will be put into his crib at the stroke of midnight in “La Noche Buena”. Sheep often are replaced by alpacas and llamas.

Often chocolatadas take place in the cities around Christmas. Chocolatadas are social events where people drink hot chocolate. The incoming money gets donated to social local issues, or homeless children are invited to join them to get donated Christmas presents.

Socialbnb tip: Are you not sure where in Peru you want to celebrate Christmas? Lima is the best place for parades and parties. Gleeful processions and plenty of traditions are found in Cusco and Puno. Arequipa is a nice mix between parties and traditions. But if all you want to do for Christmas is relaxing, you will get a peaceful Christmas atmosphere in Chachapoyas.

Tell us if we missed anything! We wish you happy holidays and Feliz Navidad (as the Peruvians would say)!

Written by: Sophie Fritzen
Edited by: Robert Beahr

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