Inkas Blood Christmas Project
The first Christmas in the Americas was memorable but for the wrong reason. On December 25, 1492, Christopher Columbus ran his ship, the Santa Maria, aground while exploring the coast of Hispaniola (modern day Haiti). He had to abandon the ship on Christmas Day and left behind 39 men who built the settlement of La Navidad (Christmas). All in all, not a festive way to spend Christmas.
When exactly the first Christmas was celebrated in Peru is open to debate but Francisco Pizarro arrived in Peru in the 1530s and defeated and captured the Inca Atahualpa on November 16, 1532.
It is safe to assume that he and his small band of conquistadors probably celebrated — or at least observed — Christmas the following month.
In the centuries that followed, Christmas remained one of the principal Christian festivals in colonial Peru and then independent Peru. Until relatively recently, Christmas in Peru was a highly religious affair, with religious festivals taking place throughout December and ending on the first week of January (beginning with Inmaculada Concepción on December 8 and running through until Epiphany on January 6). Santa Claus first arrived in Lima at the end of the 19th century.
How to Say Merry Christmas in Peru
Simple: “¡Feliz Navidad!” which means “Happy Christmas!” Throw in a kiss on the cheek and a warm hug and you’ll be all set for the festivities.
Christmas in Peru: Traditional Food
For most families, Christmas dinner in Peru is usually a large roast turkey similar to traditions in North America and Europe, or perhaps a lechon (roast suckling pig).
However, like every other holiday in Peru, there are many regional variations in typical food between the cities, coast, highlands and jungle, and Christmas is no exception.
Smaller coastal communities may swap fish for the turkey. In the Andean highlands, a classic pachamanca (meat, beans and potatoes wrapped in banana leaves and cooked underground) is more common. In the jungle, families often roast a wild chicken.
There are a few traditional foods you’ll find all around the country though. Apple sauce and homemade tamales are on the sides of most plates.
Lastly, keep in mind that December 25th is a national holiday in Peru, so many businesses and services will close around midday on the 24th and will not reopen until December 26th.