26 December 2008
Christmas in Peru was a very exciting experience. They celebrate it similarly to how we celebrate the 4th of July, Christmas, and New Years. I spent most of my Christmas Eve in McDonalds (because that is the only spot I have found so far to get wifi on my computer), working on applications for summer internships. When day became evening and I started getting grumpy about the fact that I was spending my Christmas Eve in a McDonalds, I decided to head back to Javier’s parents house. Usually the Christmas tree is set up at the beginning of December, but Javier and I were in charge of it this year and didn’t get around to it until just a couple days prior to Christmas. In Peru some people have live and some people have plastic trees, Javier’s family used to get real trees when the kids were younger, but this year we set up a plastic tree and of course a nativity scene. We ate dinner together and I went to wrap some of my gifts. All throughout Christmas Eve, as soon as it got dark, people throughout the neighborhood and city were setting off fireworks.
Right before midnight everyone in the house got together downstairs by the tree and at the stroke of midnight we went around to each other, gave hugs, and said Feliz Navidad! Together we sat down and drank hot chocolate and ate Panettone, which is an interesting bread, very popular for these Christmas celebrations, that is slightly sweet with some chunks of fruit in it.
We sat at the table for a while chatting and telling stories, after a story about an interesting indigenous alcoholic drink called…..Javier’s dad poured Javier and I a shot of it. I couldn’t drink a shot, but I poured a little bit into my hot chocolate. This drink (which I wanted to buy some for my parents, but learned it cannot be bought you have to prepare it yourself and is not easy) is made from a certain kind of wood in the Andes by the indigenous people and is very strong. The traditional Peruvian alcoholic drink is called…..which I have not tried yet, but sounds good.
After sitting and talking for a bit, we headed to the Christmas tree and exchanged gifts. Javier or I would pick up a gift, and the others
would take a couple of guesses to try to figure out who it was for, then that person would receive their gift, open it, and if possible immediately put it on/try it out. After gift giving, Javier and I walked around the neighborhood a bit to greet the neighbors and say feliz navidad. One of his neighbors that we met is a Shaman and wants to read our futures, and he has a really nice daughter who is my age and speaks English, so I’m hoping to hang out with her a bit, they were really nice people.
After walking around, we headed back to the house and went to sleep. While it was difficult for me to not be with my family on Christmas, I had a really lovely time and Javier and his family were really wonderful to include me in their celebrations.
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