Views 19 Dic Meet Manuelito at the Santurantikuy Christmas market in Cusco.
 |  Category: Events

Every year, on the 24th of December the central plaza of Cusco is the decor of the biggest Christmas fair of popular arts: the Santurantikuy market, where hundreds of artisans come from far away to display their beautiful and unique works inspired by the faith in their holy creator.

Santurantikuy literally means “The Selling of Saints” in Quechua, with ‘santu’ meaning ‘saint’ and ‘tikuy’ meaning ‘sale’, hence the often heard phrase of ‘cómprame un santito’ referring to the many saints, angels, wise men, pastors and other religious clay figurines used for altarpieces and nativity scenes. Without a doubt, the main character and emblematic patron of the Andean Christmas fair is ‘el Niño Manuelito’, better known as baby Jesus.


The figure of Manuelito is often represented as a white boy with eyes out of glass and black hair obtained from the first haircut of a newborn baby. Perhaps because el Niño Manuelito or Tayta-Niño has been responsible for thousands of miracles in the Andean community, there is no lack of sentiments and nostalgia at the Santuranticuy fair.

Ever since the arrival of the Spaniards in the 16th Century, craftsmen came from Cusco and the nearby Sacred Valley to unite at the main square to sell their goods. Nowadays, craftsmen from far-off cities such as Ayacucho, Puno, Arequipa and even Bolivian communities, many of whom sleep under the arches the night before, also visit the market to sell their sculptures, ceramics and woodworks, which are popular among tourists and locals alike.

The Christmas market in Cusco has taken on such proportions that in 2009 this very important and traditional event, representing one of the most outgoing expressions of Andean Catholicism, was proclaimed national cultural heritage of Peru.

christmas in cusco

So, if you are in the Cusco area during the festive season and would like to taste a different type of Christmas atmosphere, you owe it to yourself to visit the Santurantikuy market. It is a unique experience to stroll along hundreds of stalls at the biggest market in Peru while having a punch or hot chocolate. The many colonial houses overlooking the square are charmingly decorated with Christmas lights and local flower ornaments adding to holiday spirit.

It could very well end up being one of the cultural highlights of your travel in Peru and South America; such is the happy and cheerful atmosphere in this enchanting setting.

For more information about the festivities during Christmas in Cusco contact Dos Manos travel agency in Cusco!

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5 Responses

  1. 1

    I brought the same toritos home as a souvenir 😉

  2. 2

    Interesting article. gracias

  3. 3

    Will definitely go Saturday…shoot some photos from Norton’s balcony!

  4. 4

    I especialy miss my hometown during xmas..saludos banda!

  5. 5
    Sharon Page 

    Funny name for Baby Jesus..we can start calling him Edward here as well 😉

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