Christmas in July

Christmas Eve in the Midwest is a solemn affair. You sit around a crackling fireplace, mom puts the Mannheim Steamroller album on, and you enjoy a bit of quiet repose in the happy company of family. So when a Peruvian friend invited me to Christmas Eve dinner at his grandma’s house in Lima, I admit to expecting the same. Boy was I ever wrong.

Christmas in Lima is more like that other raucous holiday in America: the Fourth of July. All the ingredients are there: Sun, loud music, meat on the grill, drunk relatives. There’s lots of rum involved in the whole thing. Oh, and did I mention the fireworks?

I really should have known that in a country that thinks blaring J-Lo out of loudspeakers at 3 a.m. is okay, celebrating the birth of Jesus with a loud, illegal and highly dangerous fireworks display would be considered appropriate. This place is not given to solemn understatement. Yet I was still surprised to find my host completely ‘schwasted’ when I arrived at grandma’s house. And even more so when we immediately hiked down the street to an illegal street market selling cartloads of cheap yet highly potent Chinese explosives.

But we got through the night with all limbs intact. And wouldn’t you know it, lighting off massive fireworks in the middle of the street on Christmas Eve was, well, fun. It was all a potent reminder that the holidays as they are back home are not even halfway similar elsewhere.

At least one thing reminded me of home, though : Christmas Eve dinner. Though we ate it at 1 a.m. — not typical of any Midwestern households that I know.

Reminders of home: A full Christmas dinner in Lima.

So instead of waking up Christmas Day to fresh snow and presents under the tree, I awoke to a wicked gut ache after a night of excessive drinking and eating. Was it fun? Yes. Purifying in the spirit of peace on Earth and goodwill to all men? Absolutely not.

Feliz Navidad!

11 thoughts on “Christmas in July

  1. “Drunk relatives” and “lots of rum” is not common at all here in Christmas Eve! Definitely it’s a very “Enrique Guzman” Christmas hahaha. Even I had never heard (in my life) of anyone drinking rum in Christmas eve! What is normal in 99% of households is drinking champagne

  2. Duly noted, Jair. I should point out that a certain Lima resident doesn’t represent the city as a whole. However, champagne or rum aside, there were certainly a lot of folks lighting off explosives around midnight. And I don’t think most would pass a breathalyzer, if you know what I mean.

  3. Yeah, you’re right, explosives never miss here in Christmas!
    In Peru, a Christmas without explosives is not a Christmas :D
    and you’ll see the same in the New Year’s Eve.

    I think every year there are more of them. I thought the factory of explosives was behind my house!

    And it’s funny that every year the Police proudly say that they’re getting more and more effective at banning and seizing them.

    I guess you also had hot chocolate during the dinner :D

    As Jesus wasn’t born on the 25th of December and the current date was decided over the winter solstice in the times of the Roman Empire, we (southern hemisphere) should celebrate Christmas on the 24th of June (our Solstice of winter), which is just the day of the most important Inca celebration, the Inti Raymi (Festivity of the Sun). It would be better (and healthier!) for us.

  4. Ohhh Ludy, you sure did have to rub it in, didn’t you? How I miss the traffic and chaos of Lima in my quiet mountainside town. Say hi to all for me. Hope you had a good Christmas. Looking forward to reading about more adventures in the upcoming months.

  5. we had champange too but we were celebrating the birth of baby jesus so we need rum too also my wallet cant handle a party just with champagne

  6. Amazing!! And there I was thinking that the only way to spend Christmas eve was drinking tea and watching whatever the BBC might deem appropriate!! Sounds like a fabulous evening, hope you had a very Merry Christmas!!

    • Hey Millie! Talking about BBC, have you watched the programme The Choir? I loved last one, which was kind of a documentary about the choir of military wives, by Gareth Malone (I guess you’ve listened to the song performed by them).

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