The festive season is well and truly upon us in Arequipa, with locals busily snapping their photo beside the huge Christmas tree in Plaza de Armas, and shopkeepers adorning their stores with garlands. All we need now is a freak snowfall and the scene will be complete (but don’t hold your breath for a white Christmas, with temperatures pushing 24C!).
So it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, but beneath the tinsel and Santa Claus pictures, how exactly do Peruvians celebrate the holidays? I spoke to HOOPsters Carlos and Evaldo to find out.
“In Peru, we celebrate Christmas on the 24th of December, known as ‘Nocha Buena’ or ‘Good Night’”, Carlos explained, “when all the family comes together for a meal in the evening. We then spend time together until 12 o’clock, when some people will go to a midnight service at their local church.
“In Arequipa, we really love fireworks, and at midnight the sky lights up with fireworks all around the city. This is something you won’t see in most other parts of Peru, where fireworks cannot be sold. After fireworks it’s time to give and open presents, before bed.”
Evaldo added, “In my family we have a turkey salad and potatoes for Christmas dinner. At midnight we celebrate the birth of Jesus and share hot chocolate and eat panatone – a traditional cake filled with fruit. The next morning some of the family goes to church and the rest prepares for a big family lunch with all my cousins, uncles and grandparents.”
At HOOP, we’ve been trying to make sure no one gets left out of the festivities. We just had our annual Christmas party for the kids and parents of the school, with games, food, gifts and an appearance from Papá Noel himself. You can see more photos from the day on our Facebook or Flickr page.
The kids have also been busy at school preparing to sing Christmas songs and creating decorations for the end of year assembly. Check out our Christmas video for a snapshot of the festivities.
However the holidays are celebrated in your part of the world, from everyone at HOOP,
Written by Tom Hornbrook