There’s something undeniably magical about Christmas, a time when the air is filled with a sense of wonder, and hearts brim with joy. This year, my festive spirit led me to a unique destination far from the snowy landscapes typically associated with the season. I embarked on a journey to Cusco, Peru, to experience the vibrant and culturally rich Christmas market of Santurantikuy, a tradition that dates back centuries and is held every year on December 24th.
The Heartbeat of Cusco
Cusco, once the capital of the Inca Empire, is more than just a gateway to Machu Picchu. It’s a city where history whispers from every corner, and modernity is intertwined with tradition. As I arrived in Cusco, the city was abuzz with excitement for Santurantikuy, which translates to “buying of the saints.” The Plaza de Armas, Cusco’s main square, was transforming into a wonderland of stalls and shoppers.
A Market Like No Other
Santurantikuy is not just a market; it’s a cultural fiesta. Artisans and craftsmen from all over the region gather to showcase their talents. As I wandered through the stalls, I was captivated by the diversity of the crafts. The most notable were the Retablos, intricately carved wooden boxes depicting religious, historical, or everyday scenes. Each Retablo was a narrative, a piece of art frozen in time, telling stories of faith, tradition, and daily life.
Nativity scenes, or ‘nacimientos’, were another highlight. Crafted from clay, wood, or even stone, these pieces ranged from small, simple designs to elaborate works of art. The attention to detail in each piece was astounding, reflecting the artisans’ dedication and skill.
More Than Just Crafts
What truly set Santurantikuy apart was its atmosphere. The air resonated with the melodies of Andean music, while folk dancers in colorful costumes performed in the streets. It was a feast for the senses, with the aroma of Peruvian cuisine filling the air. I indulged in local delicacies like tamales, lechón, and churros, each flavor adding to the richness of the experience.
The Spirit of Community
Amidst the hustle of commerce, what struck me most was the sense of community. Santurantikuy is a cherished tradition, a time when families come together, stories are shared, and the spirit of the Andes is celebrated. The warmth and hospitality of the locals were overwhelming, making me feel more like a guest than a tourist.
A Christmas to Remember
As the day turned to evening, and the market slowly wound down, I realized that Santurantikuy had given me a new perspective on Christmas. It wasn’t just about the crafts or the food; it was about coming together, sharing cultures, and celebrating life in all its facets.
Visiting Peru for Santurantikuy was more than a holiday; it was an immersion into a culture that reverberates with the echoes of the past and the vibrancy of the present. If you’re seeking an unconventional Christmas experience, full of color, culture, and warmth, Santurantikuy in Cusco is a journey worth taking.