Blog written by Camp Peru’s very own Project Leader Lily SÌÁnchez Morales..

Christmas is a special time in South America and Peruvians love the holiday. While there is a strong indigenous population, most Peruvians are Roman Catholics and it is understandable that Christmas is a very big holiday in the country. While some celebrations are similar to those in Europe and North America, there are some unique traditions that reflect the nation’s history and make Peru a special place to be during the holidays and one that makes for a great holiday destination.

Although we typically celebrate Christmas on December 25th many South American countries like Ecuador and Peru, the biggest Christmas celebrations are not on Christmas Day but the night before on Christmas Eve, here it is known as Noche Buena or Good Night.

Christmas is to share and spend moments of love and time together. In the mountain area of our country, one of the traditions we share is called CHOCOLATADA, where we prepare hot chocolate for a group of people and enjoy a moment of affection together.

Each family has on the Christmas table a hot chocolate and panettone. Normally businesses, organizations or municipalities give ‘la chocolatada’ to the less fortunate, especially to children from communities or small towns. It is always important on this date that children wait for gifts and have moments of happiness and joy while drinking their hot chocolate and eating their panettone; which is a sweet cake with raisins and different flavoured candied fruit.

The staff of Camp Peru got the people together of Kajllarakay where Camp Moray is located to enjoy this very Peruvian tradition, bringing happiness, and a moment for the community to enjoy. Especially for the children.

Our plan for la CHOCOLATADA is to also give toys to the less fortunate boys and girls, and packages containing cookies, rice, sugar, milk and panettone to older adults. We will also be leaving necessary clothing to children and others who are in need of it.

On Saturday, the 21st of December, the weather was on our side. Although it was already the rainy season the “inti” (sun in Quechua, the ancient Incan language) shone down on us. Early that morning we began to prepare the hot chocolate and everything else for when everyone arrived from their farms. Of course we used the local and delicious recipes of the women in the community.

The children began to arrive and the adults soon followed. Everyone with a large smile from expectations. We put together the tables and seats for everyone. Later on we began to put on the Christmas hats, shared the panettone and served hot chocolate to children who brought their mugs. On top of that we had donkey (the typical animal from this area) and Santa Claus costumes to bring a little joy to the youngest of the group.

As time went on we had more and more adults and children; we were at 50 children and almost 30 adults. We gave everything we had; toy balls, toy cars, play kitchens, lollipops, clothing, and food for the elderly.

Everyone ended up content with what they had and the moment arrived to say goodbye to the community amid the rain, the gratitude, and most important, the smiles of all the children.