Early Peruvians immediately identified with the festival of Christmas due to the rural nature of the nativity story, where the baby Jesus was born in a barn.
Andean Christmases began taking on characteristics of their own, and it is probably the most important celebration of the year. The Andean people put together Nativity scenes in churches and homes, perform dances and plays, and cook typical dishes. Most families buy the pieces for their nativity scenes at the fascinating market of Santurantikuy, (the buying of the saints), held in the Plaza de Armas on the 24th December. They will keep their nativity scenes until La Bajada de los Reyes (the arrival of the three wise men) on January 6.
Andean people also produce wide range of handicrafts such as Nativity scenes in Huamanga stones, altarpieces featuring images related to Christmas and pottery or carved gourds called "burilados" and decorated with Yuletide scenes.
In Cusco, Christmas Eve (known as Noche Buena) is when families get together and celebrate and exchange gifts. Well off families, eat turkey, while for many others chicken suffices. Paneton (a cake/bread filled with fruits) is very popular as are hot drinks of chocolate. In the week preceding Christmas, it is also popular for communities, churches or organisations to organise "chocolatadas" where people who are better off make a Christmas gesture to poor children by offering them a cup of hot chocolate and perhaps a small gift. The lines for chocolatadas are a distinct feature of Christmas in Cusco.
Christmas in Cusco has also many features common to those from the west: Christmas trees and the face of Santa Claus or Father Christmas.
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