December is one of the months in which the streets of Cuzco’s center fill with people. There is very little access for cars and busses, so people walk everywhere to find the things they need for their Christmas feast.
On the days before Christmas children come from all over Cuzco, from the most remote, rural villages. They walk through the streets to receive the free hot chocolate and gifts that many businesses of Cuzco prepare for them. We call these chocolatadas. As my father says: Christmas is for children.
People who put one hand firmly on their heart and the other hand in their make sure that Christmas comes to way more children than otherwise would get gifts and Christmas cheer. This is a feast of the city and where children come from all over to experience it here.
The adults organize groups of youths to go out and gather used clothing, various products, plastic toys, and with full hearts they take them to the most remote places to make smiles, even if just for a day.
Businesses, groups of young people, parish organizations, friendship groups, and many more get together during these days to organize these acts that we call solidarity and others call charity. They put together the work force to make up lots of hot chocolate, with Cuzco’s wonderful bars of chocolate, along with cookies, and a toy for the children. From early in the morning lines form by the mounds of balloons that announce a chocolatada. They wait patiently, filled with excitement, to receive the hot chocolate and toy that is waiting for them. The toy may well be something their parents could never give them.
As a proof of love and Christmas spirit, many people during these days present a Santa Claus to hordes of children who otherwise might never know the white bearded Father Christmas. He appears as if by magic before children who often have never seen him with their own eyes. And, he comes with his hands filled with gifts and much joy.
All of this love for children and to help makes people feel very satisfied. Christmas is a symbol of both receiving and giving.