Traditional Christmas Cusco
Traditional celebrations of Christmas in Cusco
Traditional Christmas Cusco Panetton is the South American version of fruitcake. The only difference is that people actually eat and like panettone in South America.
Everybody gives and gets one for Traditional Christmas Cusco. No problem if you forget to get somebody something- just give them one of your panettones , they’ll love it. Its got those fruit/candy bits in it and sometimes chocolate chips. Its not very dense like fruitcake and apparently it never gets stale since they sit in boxes that aren’t airtight year-round. They’re about $5-6 a piece and turn into a ball of mush in your stomach.
The focus of Christmas decorations in Cusco isn’t outdoor lights or a tree inside. Everybody has a nativity scene made of figurines, lights, wood, colored sawdust for ground cover and a small Christmas tree in the house. It’s a chance to be different, creative, buy more stuff and maybe a little bit of trying to out-do your neighbors nativity extravaganza. A few streets are filled with markets just selling figures of all sorts and sizes with a Peruvian twist. Shephards with chullos (the Peruvian hat that has the ear covers that hang down on both sides), llamas, alpacas and Peruvian looking mountains made out of paper.
For Christmas the most popular gifts are baskets (canastas) filled with food. Not the gift baskets in the US filled with foo-foo foods, half-empty boxes and packages of overpriced pseudo gourmet crap in a useless woven basket that has no use.
These highly desired and expected practical gift baskets (canasta de regalos) here in Cusco are filled with staples you use anyway: cans of milk, pasta, a bag of sugar, bag of rice, jelly, yogurt, mayo, mustard, ketchup, bag of salt, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, a bottle of champagne and of course the ubiquitous panetonne.
Its popular for employers to give them as gifts if they don’t throw a party or go out to celebrate. All the stores are ramped up to facilitate making canastas. People just go in with their lists of items they want in each basket, tell the clerks they want 10 or 20 and they leave and get them delivered or come back and pick them up.
The best part is the food stuffs are given in a practical plastic tub that you can wash dishes, clothes or your car with. They have utility, last forever, have a thousand uses, you can re-gift them easily and they won’t wind up in the closet unused like a pretty woven basket will. Now that’s a nice gift basket.