Festivals in Peru

by Roger on May 23, 2008

by Roger | May 23rd, 2008  

festivalThere are about 3,000 festivals celebrated each year in Peru. Most of them celebrate the day of saint patron. The festivities mix both the Christians and Andean religions, creating a very colorful and mysterious event. Especially in the traditional villages in the mountains there are several traditional celebrations related to ancient myths.

Most important festivals in Peru

Inti Raymi

This is one of the most important celebrations dedicated to the Sun. The Sun was a very important God in the Inca culture. The main part of the festival takes part at the Ruins of Sacsahuama (located at just 2 km/1.2 miles from Cusco)

The festivities start early in the day at the Temple of the Sun, in the city of Cusco and at Plaza de Armas. Around noon the participants go to Sacsahuama. At the site two lamas are scarified. The Incas held the festival on the shorted day of the year because they were afraid that the Sun (their Father) would abandon them (his sons). The festival is celebrated annually on June 24.

Corpus Christi

The festival used to be celebrated all over the country but it’s most impressive in Cusco. The night before the main day, twelve typical dishes are prepared and eaten (including “cuy”). Fifteen saints and virgins arrive from different places to the Cathedral. The festival takes place sixty days after Eastern Sunday. All day the sounds of the María Angola, the biggest Church Bell of Peru can be heard in Cusco.

The procession starts at about 11 AM in the Plaza de Armas. Tourists and locals alike flock to see the saints. After the procession the saints are taken back in the cathedral. After 7 days the saints participate in a procession again after going back to the places where they came from.

All Saints Day (Fiesta de Todos los Santos)

The worship of the dead was a common and respected practice during pre-Hispanic times in Peru. Today, the old traditions are combined with the Christians ones, creating an interesting festival. The festival takes place on November 1 and is dedicated to the memory of the dead. Peruvians attend the Mass and then head to the cemeteries bringing flowers and food to share with the souls of the dead. In some villages the relatives hold a candlelight vigil in the cemetery until dawn on November 2.

Carnivals

The carnivals in the Peruvian highlands are colorful and joyful. They take place during February. A typical ceremony is yunza, when a big tree, full of gifts, is planted somewhere. Then they have to cut the tree down and the couple that gives the final cut is in charge of the yunza the following year. During the entire month of February, water is thrown at each other, not only during the carnivals.

Read our indie travel tips for Lima, Peru.


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