Thursday, January 19, 2017

How We Celebrate Christmas

We are a tad past the holiday season, but...I decided to post this anyway!
A friend of mine asked if celebrating Christmas in Peru is different than in America. So, I thought it might be fun to share what Christmas is like for us.
We just celebrated our sixth Christmas here in Peru, and Christmas for us has become a mix of Peruvian and American traditions--with a couple Anderson-isms thrown in for good measure.

How We Celebrate Christmas

  • Christmas Music: We like all the American classics, and the Michael Buble Christmas album is a fun favorite. But Peruvian/Latino Christmas music has grown on us. In our house you are just as likely to hear "El Burrito Sabanero" playing as you are to hear "Jingle Bells". (Not the kind of burrito you eat...the kind that Mary rode on!) That "tuqui tuqui tuqui" line is catchy!

  • Christmas Cookies: We love Christmas cookies and bake batches and batches all December long!

  • Panetón and Hot Chocolate: Christmas cookies are the American Christmas treat of choice, but here in Peru, it's all about the panetón. Panetón is a sweet Christmas bread with candied fruits and raisins, and we love it. It is almost always served with a cup of hot chocolate, which is never actually hot, but only slightly warm. The weather here at Christmastime isn't exactly hot chocolate weather!

  • Chocolatadas: A chocolatada is a Christmas party, which always ends with the serving of panetón and warm chocolate. We have a chocolatada every year at both the Oasis and the Juniper Tree, and families of the kids are always invited.
Excited for the chocolatada to begin!

The kids always receives lots of goodies at the chocolatadas.

The Juniper Tree houses always have a house decorating competition which is judged during the chocolatada--here is the Purple House celebrating their victory!

  • Christmas Tree: Most people here who have Christmas trees use artificial ones, but we wanted a real one. We bought this unique pine tree (common here in Peru) at a nursery, and potted it. We've used it every Christmas for the last several, and we put it out in the yard the rest of the year. It's a bit (okay, a lot!) Charlie Brownish, but we like it because it is real.

  • Juniper Tree Christmas Dinner: Every year we have a big turkey dinner with all the kids at the Juniper Tree along with "extended family" and friends associated with the Children's Home. We sing together, eat, have a telling of the Christmas story, and the kids usually prepare some sort of skit or choreograph, etc.
The newest addition to the Juniper Tree enjoying her first Christmas with us.

They worked hard on their dance!
  • Christmas Eve Burger King Run:  Yeah, I know that sounds strange. When I was growing up,  we always celebrated Christmas Eve by putting out an assortment of snacks and grazing all evening while hanging out and playing games. But here, with most of our traditional snacks not available, we've been experimenting with new traditions. We've tried lots of different things, most failures or requiring too much work. Last year we had a family meeting and brainstormed what special thing we could on Christmas Eve. We decided it would be great fun to hop in the car and drive to Burger King to get burgers, fries and a shake, coming back after to hang out and play games. But due to the almost two-hour round trip drive to get there, plus the post-fast food stomach pains, we've decided that it wasn't so fun after all. We'll keep looking for a new tradition!

  • Midnight Fireworks: In Peru (and much of Latin America), Christmas is celebrated with fireworks. Most Peruvians let off fireworks at midnight, immediately followed by their big Christmas dinner and opening presents in the middle of the night. Since we celebrate with just our family on the actual Christmas, we prefer to keep our American tradition of opening presents on Christmas morning. But we still get to enjoy the fireworks of all our neighbors!

And that's how we celebrate Christmas!