One of the hightlights of the Peruvian Christmas in Cusco, is the beautiful Christmas Market or Christmas Fair at the Plaza de Armas of Cusco.
IT’s one of the largest fair of popular arts in Peru, and takes place yearly on December 24th, from 4 a.m. on, ever since the arrival of the Spaniards in the 16th centrury.
The market is called Santuranrikuy, a Quechua word, meaning “the selling of the saints’ (in Quechua rantikuy means ‘sale’(‘buy’), and santu, saints).
This, because originally there we only religious items for sale such as images of saints, angels, the wise man, pastors, el niño Jesus (o niño Manuelito) and other religous figures, most of them made out of clay.It’s an important tradition in Cusco and all over Peru to built natavity scenes, travelers in Peru will see many these days.
Nowadays there are many craftsmen from other Peruvian cities as well, such as Ayacucho, Puno, Arequipa and there are also some Bolivian sellers.
Some of them do bring other, non-religious ítems to the market such as metal work, knits, leather work, and others, but the Christmas theme still dominates. Many Peruvian artisans work during a big part of the year to prepare for the Santurantikuy.
In a corner of the Plaza you can find a full-scale nativity scenes with Joseph, Mary, the Wise Men (los Reyes Magos, in Spanish) with life animals of the stable: donkeys, cows, sheep , including llamas.
The Santurantikuy Fair is an important event with a rich history, representing the best of Andean Catholicism in Peru. Therefore, it’s proclaimed a Cultural Heritage of Peru in 2009.
No better way to experience the cheerful and traditional Peruvian Christmas atmosphere.