Trees and houses covered in bright lights, big bows and beautiful decorations, singing carols and sharing cookies by the fire; the holiday season is by far my favorite time of year! Starting in late November Houston transforms into a land of cheery and even friendlier people. December is the month when (most years) the heat finally goes away and Texans can pull out the boots and scarves for a few days at a time.
Being in the Peace Corps during the holiday season is one of the biggest challenges we face as volunteers. With a Facebook feed full of holiday photos and family dinners, it is easy to feel alone. So this year rather than spend another Christmas wishing I was in Texas I decided to make a big deal of the little pieces of the holiday season that I found in Peru!
This brings me to the Epic Peruvian Nativity! A week or two before Christmas nativities start popping up in houses, restaurants, bus stations and plazas across Peru. Now I know you’ve all seen a nativity… Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus surrounded by three wise men, a shepherd and maybe an animal or two. All neatly displayed on a shelf or tabletop. Now times that by 10 and you have a typical Peruvian nativity.
Steps to create an Epic Peruvian Nativity scene:
1. Start by covering a table or series of boxes in green thick paper.
2. Add an obnoxiously large star somewhere above your green paper “mountains”.
3. Place the characters of the nativity surrounding an empty manger. Baby Jesus is kept hidden somewhere until Dec. 24th at midnight when he is kissed by each member of the family and then placed in his manger. (Symbolic of being born right as the clock strikes Christmas.)
4. Add a few animals in the immediate proximity of the shepherd.
5. Continue adding animals until there are 10 animals for each person in the nativity scene.
6. Place live plants on the edges of the nativity. Like a lot of live plants!
7. Add any other random Christmas figurines you own to the scene.
8. Now it’s time for the lights! Add strings of flashing, music playing lights to the entire nativity. Make sure that all the strings play different carols, so when you plug them all in it’s a flashing mess of 5 different Christmas carols.
Your Epic Peruvian Nativity scene is now complete! Well unless you are going for “Master Nativity Creator,” then follow these additional steps. Be warned they are only for the brave of heart.
9. In addition to the green paper mountains, cover the entire wall with paper and paint various farmers and animals so they appear to be traveling to visit baby Jesus.
10. Somewhere in the mountain scene add a lake complete with lake animals.
11. Not only should a star be placed above the scene, but also fabric should be draped to represent clouds and a night sky should be painted.
Now you have officially reached the title of “Master Epic Peruvian Nativity Creator”. That is until you were outdone by the live nativity put on by the municipality that includes an actual baby and live sheep!
Do you have any interesting Christmas traditions in your host country? Share below! I would love to hear all about them.