hen the Spaniards arrived in ancient Peru, they came bearing arms in one hand and the Bible in the other and while some, mounted on lively horses, went brandishing the
sword to conquer the land of a frightened, surprised people, others preached from the open gospels that there was only one God and his son Jesus Christ had been born in Bethlehem on a 25th of December.
So it was that mixed with the violence of conquest there came to our land the feast and message of Christmas, celebrated at first in the Spanish way but, with the passing years, the cribs and carols changed, taking on a different color: a Spanish-Indian color.
Everything changed, chants, prayers, rituals. In the Peruvian cribs, the Bethlehem manger underwent a singular transformation: it changed into an Apu or sacred hill, bathed in lights and shiny snow, with a cave reserved for the Christ Child.
And just as Bethlehem changed, the child also changed from being simply Jesus to become the Child God, Tayta Dios, or Manuelito, because in the faith of the poor it is common to treat God with great familiarity and trust. Not only that, in his contact with the Andes his skin darkened just as his curls did and he became more lively and rosy from playing so much in the sun.
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