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What to do in South America December 2012


When the Spanish came to South America and colonized most of the region they also introduced Christianity and while revolution brought the end of the Spanish rule. Christianity remained and most countries in South America have a massive Catholic population making December a very important month with many special events around the holiday season.

But religious festivities aside there are also a number of great events running this month that are sure to make a holiday in South America special. If you in the region this month you may want to check out the following events:

La Feria de Cali
Cali is one of the most famous cities in Colombia, while many know its name for its dark history with Pablo Escobar's drug cartel, it is also known to be one of the premier places in the world for salsa dancing. It is a lively city famous for its parties which often last all night and there is no better example of this than during the Cali Fair, which runs between Christmas and New Year's Eve.It is a cultural festival that has been around for more than 50 years and it is possible to see plenty of live music and dancing during this time. It is also possible to see bullfighting; however, it is becoming a contentious issue as many animal rights activists in the area disgree with this traditional sport.

Santuranticuy Festival
The festival is "The sale of saints" and happens every December 24 in Cusco, Peru. It is an extremely old festival from the 16th century started by the Bethlemite order of Franciscan Friars and is now one of the biggest and most colorful festivals. Hundreds of artists gather in Cusco's Plaza de Armas to sell carved images and figures of saints and the nativity scene. For locals this is an annual tradition to come and find the perfect one to add to their collection.

With tradition, families will purchase an item during the day and return to their home for dinner and celebrations. While there is a nativity scene in the home baby Jesus is not placed in the manger until midnight, at which gifts are exchanged and celebrations can last all night complete with fireworks.

La Fiesta Grande
Simply, The Big Party, held December 24-26 in Andacollo in Central Chile in the mountains southeast of La Serena and Coquimbo in El Norte Chico.

Each year thousands gather to pay respect to the Virgen of Andacollo and the miracles she performed as well as the Niño Dios de Sotaquí, Christ Child of Sotaqui. Many believe that one of her most important miracles was ending a smallpox epidemic in 1871.

Andacollo is considered to be one of the most religious towns in Chile and this is one of the largest pilgrimmages as people arrive days in advance for the annual event centered around the town's basilica and includes processions and religious music and dances. There are also a number of events not focused on religion such as cockfighting and horseracing.

This is similar to Reveillon held in Portugal, France and French Canada, Reveillon in Brazil generally a long dinner or party held on the eve of Christmas or New Year's and lasts well into the early hours of the next morning. Today it is referred to for New Year's Eve and like everything in Brazil, it is a huge party and millions, many of whom will be wearing white, gather on beaches of Copacabana, Ipanema, Flamengo and Barra de Tijuca and all the other major beaches for fireworks displays that run half an hour.

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