We've just witnessed what happens for Christmas here in Cuzco and it's definitely a crazy and festive experience. First, on the 24th the whole Plaza de Armas (the heart of Cuzco) is closed to traffic and completely filled with stalls for people to sell their stuff. What do they sell you ask? Anything you could need to build a nativity scene (la creche de Noel) next to your christmas tree.
|Plaza de Armas|
Here people build those on the 24th after shopping for all the different elements they need. The market lasts all day and is completely packed. It's pretty amazing.
They build it in their home but don't put the baby jesus in until midnight. So in the meantime, they cook a big meal that they will eat at midnight as well.
While waiting for it, people throw fireworks and firecrackers all over the city. It intensifies as midnight approaches and turns into complete madness by the end. And when I mean that it's all over the city, it's not an exaggeration. It is unbelievable how much is going on everywhere when midnight strikes.
We were lucky enough to hang out that night with some foreigners who have been living in Cuzco for a while and had a prime view of the whole city and the lights exploding everywhere. It is quite a departure from the Christmases we've been used to!
Later in the night, we passed by Plaza de Armas again, to see what had happened to the market and we were welcomed by another war zone with shit everywhere (being cleaned up thankfully) and many of the Quechuans who had come to sell their stuff, sleeping around the plaza, outisde. It was quite a strange sight.
It is a truly unique way to experience Christmas, and if it's strange to celebrate it away from friends and family, I'm glad I got to see it the way it's celebrated here as it's pretty amazing!