Peruvian Culture: 5 Christmas traditions in Peru

Family gatherings around the Christmas tree, celebrations, recipes for delicious meals and, of course, Christmas lights. Every year, many families around the world do all this before the arrival of Christmas. This is the season to have your tummies and hearts full, and share memories and stories with your loved ones.

Peru, thanks to its diversity, is a country that carries different traditions in every region, even for Christmas. In this country you can see how people pass on their Christmas traditions from generation to generation.

In this post, you will be able to explore Peru’s great Christmas traditions in different regions. And, if you’re in Peru, you will be able to choose what tradition to experience!

1. Southern Black Christmas and traditional dances

Photo by Diario Correo

Cañete is located in Ica, one of the southerns regions of Peru. This region of Peru has an African-Peruvian population.

Between dances and music, Cañete locals gather together to welcome baby Jesus. The children start the celebration tapping their shoes (a way to call their ancestors). The clapping of the attendees, the instruments played, and the happiness reflected in this Afro-Peruvian festival are things you shouldn’t miss.

2. Santurantikuy at the Main Square of Cusco

Photo by Cuzco Eats

If you are the kind of traveller that enjoys the architecture of every place you go, then the historical Cusco will amaze you. Every December 24th, artisans from all over the region gather at the Plaza de Armas (Main Square) to assemble their little booths and sell their products. This gathering is called Santurantikuy (Saint’s sale) and is very popular amongst locals and visitors.

3. Misa de Gallo (Christmas Eve mass)

Photo by Comunica Salesianos

On December 24th, the night before Christmas, many families go to church to attend a mass service. This especial service pays tribute to the birth of Jesus, reading Bible verses and meditating on them.

People bring their images of baby Jesus in order to place them in the nativity displayed by the church. The Misa de Gallo is celebrated throughout the country, but it’s also celebrated in other Latin American countries under different names.

4. Lima’s family Christmas

In Peru’s capital, Christmas in celebrated with lights, big Christmas trees, and lots of vendors on the streets. Families gather together on December 24th and bring their turkey and hot chocolate recipes. It’s a tradition to eat turkey, applesauce, and, of course, the Peruvian national cocktail, Pisco Sour.

5. Nativities in Puno

Photo by Sodexo Peru

On December 24th, past midnight, some families in the Andes read coca leaves as a way to see what will happen in the coming year. Also, in this region of Peru, nativity fairs take place.

Christmas in Peru

It is very common to hear Christmas music, in Spanish and English, as well as seeing people go caroling. For Christmas, you can see Spanish and Andean traditions come together as one to celebrate. You see Santa Claus next to architecture and Andean food.

If you are anywhere in Peru for the holidays, take a moment to appreciate and embrace the cultural differences. We’re sure you will have the time of your life!

Proyecto Peru is a Volunteering and Language Centre in Cusco, Peru. Check our website to see what we have to offer you!

Articled translated and adapted from Viájala.