Cuzco Neighborhoods, Events, Food Culture

The Baskets of Cuzco’s Ongoing Christmas

A Gift of a Big Basket of Food

At this time of the year all the people who are from Cuzco but live away from it try to come home in order to celebrate Christmas Eve, la Noche Buena, with their loved ones. Cuzco’s families receive the season with much joy.

At this time of the year all the people who are from Cuzco but live away from it try to come home in order to celebrate Christmas Eve, la Noche Buena, with their loved ones. Cuzco’s families receive the season with much joy.

People get together with great pleasure. They carry out all their preparations happily in order to enjoy a night of harmony where a delicious cup of hot chocolate, a slice of panetón, and increasingly baked turkey, are the elements that make up the Christmas feast in family.

Afterwards people ask others how their Christmas went. The answer almost always is “good. I spent it with my family.”

In the days before Christmas businesses make gifts of basic food items to their workers. In some neighborhoods as well as in organizations people will play pandero where they will also win gifts of basic food items. These gifts are called canastones or big baskets.

Bosses give these canastones to their workers as a thanks offering for having given their work during the year. They give them to their workers the day before Christmas Eve. Generally they contain wine, a bagged paneton, a can of milk, a bar of chocolate, some kilos of rice, sugar, and pasta. Besides this, because it is Christmas, they give them an Aguinaldo—an extra salary—so that they can enjoy a wonderful Christmas with their family

In Cuzco’s neighborhoods all the socios, the members of the neighborhood, put in a quota of money so that the organization can buy the foods to make up canastones. Then they hold a neighborhood meeting and offer up some words in honor of Christmas. Following this they give canastones to every socio of the neighborhood.

As we noted, some groups play pandero. This is a game where every week the members get together and make a deposit of a certain quantity of money that they have decide on. The game is that in every meeting everyone will put in money and then hold a drawing to see who gets to take away the entire pool of funds for that week. In this way, week after week, all the members will win at some point the entire pool.

Besides carrying out their weekly game, they will also deposit separately a small weekly fund of money. This is kept for the end of the year. When Christmas comes they allocate this money to buy basic foods and to give to each of them some super canastones.

In one way or another the people of Cuzco always share with each other and they demonstrate it when they celebrate their feasts, just like the beautiful one of Christmas that is still in course.

 

 

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