Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself. Christmas at our house includes lots of decorations including a growing collection of stuffed Christmas animals/characters that parade down our staircase. Or at least they do when we actually have a staircase. Here in Rio we are in a one floor apartment. Hence the dilemma. But all challenges have a solution as did this one. Ta Da!
That utility ladder, dressed up with garlands, lights and a Peruvian blanket came together to create our “escadinha”, or little staircase. The rest of the house sparkled as well with our well travelled decorations.
One of my favorites as it gives a sense of Christmas in the tropics – orchids sit alongside wintery decorations everywhere, including the dining room table!
And then, of course, the classic tree with a view to the Lagoa [Note - the artificial trees sold here in Rio include the option of a brown, as in appears to be dead, Christmas tree. Not sure why.].
The nativities from around the world.....
And the stockings hung by the front door with care...
The Lagoa Tree - But the coolest decorations were right outside our window! For the past 15 years Rio has had a floating 250 foot tall Christmas tree [a Guinness record holder] on the Lagoa in Ipanema. For months ahead of time the structure is constructed and on December 4th there was an official lighting ceremony, complete with fireworks, music and huge crowds. Since we had a ring side seat we decided to have a tree lighting party and share our view with good friends. The ceremony began with lots of fire works, applause and noise (and toasts on the balcony).
The tree draws thousands of people every night to the Lagoa to enjoy the changing light show of decorations. So from the lighting ceremony through January 6th we will see a steady stream of visitors, hot dog and popcorn salesmen, and lots of empty beer cans littering the path around the lake. In fairness though, Comlurb, the city’s cleaning service has been doing a great job of cleaning up after the crowd finally leaves at around 2 a.m. Thank goodness our bedroom does not face the street and thus keeps us away from both party and trash pick-up noise!
So here is a sampling of the many iterations of lighting that cover the tree…..
The Christmas candles
A filigree arrangement
And my personal favorite, the floating stars
Staying with the Christmas tree theme, I have to share the fabulous cake that good friend Daniela made for the event. Dani has a cake business here in Rio but sadly will be taking it back to the States when their tour here ends. This woman is the queen of cakes!
Presepios – And finally, the Guinness record winner for the largest collection of life-size nativity scenes (aka presepios) right in our back yard. A park nearby that serves as a pretty good dog park and campground for some street people for most of the year becomes the Festival de Presepios during the Christmas season. The collection of life-size nativity scenes is pretty cool and far more interesting than the collection of sniffing and chasing dogs that will return in January. So here is a sampling….
This one sits outside the park (as do probably a half dozen others that are scattered about within a few blocks of the exhibition)
And finally, the beach scene recognizes Christmas too and Santa arrived in the form of a sand sculpture.
Ours was a quiet Christmas Eve, unwrapping presents and drinking champagne on the balcony. Christmas Day we spent on the beach and then went to Copacabana for an evening concert. Christmas in Rio was wonderful - I hope yours was as well.