24 December 2011

Lima does Christmas

Christmas has been quickly forcing itself upon Lima. Or at least it seems that way to me. Perhaps, then, Christmas is only forcing itself upon this gringa in llama-land.

Lima has been slathering on layers of ostentatious Christmas decor with little rhyme or reason. Places that looked decorated weeks ago manage to cram in new decorations almost daily, giving the impression that a Christmas elf vomited on certain parts of town.

Certain cities, like New York and Paris, wear Christmas well. The season seems to make the fascinating cities even more intriguing and elegant. They sparkle and twinkle and seem full of wonder. Paris has a tendency toward bizarre modern European decorations and over-the-top decor, but even then, evening in Paris at Christmastime with lights everywhere, shoppers bustling, music playing, and the frigid air stinging your face...it's magical.

Lima on the other hand, Lima just seems awkward in its Christmas trappings. It's like somewhere deep down the city knows that the snowmen and reindeer and Santas in fur-trimmed costumes belong to another culture, another season, and a whole different hemisphere. The roasting-chestnuts-sleigh-bells-jingling-hot-cocoa culture was imported with the commercialization of Christmas from the states. So much is imported, in fact, that in the stores it's much easier to find decor proclaiming "Merry Christmas!" than it is to find a "Feliz Navidad!" message.

Some friends new to Peru like myself have also commented about how it's hard to feel Christmasy when it's warm outside. But I personally can't blame the weather for my lack of Christmas spirit. I can be especially thankful that I'm a Floridian at this time of year because I am not unaccustomed to Christmas trees and carols set against the backdrop of warm weather and beach days. Yet I must admit that it seems strange even to myself to see Christmas displays and Summer Sales fighting for space in stores. And even though it's summer here, the weather most days remains in the 70s, while wintry Daytona Beach has had temperatures in the 80s back home this week. It's a topsy turvy world!

What does suit Lima are the mounds of Peruvian Christmas decorations available at the artisans' market. Bright Peruvian colors, fabrics, patterns, and materials make some of the most creative and unique Christmas decor I've seen. I love it! I went a little crazy with my shopping at the Inca Market and bought a ton of ornaments. I figure they will make good gifts, and in the meantime they are adorning the tree that our supervisors loaned us. They are joined by some random things from other countries, key chains, homemade  cinnamon applesauce ornaments, and even a mini cheese-grater. It's a little odd, but I think it's fun. And, after all, I know now that a Christmas tree without a llama just isn't complete.

Here are some pictures of Christmas decorations down our way:

Our living room
Our tree :-)
gourd ornament
Mini hat ornament!
Ornament from Kevin and Ellen. A cuy!  
Peruvian snowman!
Star made from metro tickets from Buenos Aires.

Of course I made a Gator ornament!
Yes. Yes that IS a cheese grater. Yes we really do use it to grate cheese.

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