Feasts and Festivals of Arequipa


March / April (movable) Pan Peruvian

Peruvian carnivals are marked by the festive character of Andean areas, which regularly break with their solemn traditions. Beyond regional variations, a common characteristic of nearly the entire highland chain is the ritual of the yunza, called umisha in the jungle and cortamonte on the coast. It involves artificially planting a tree trunk laden with gifts, around which the guests dance until it is chopped with a machete or an ax. The couple who make the final hack that brings down the tree will then both be in charge of organizing the yunza next year. Peruvians across the country are extremely fond of tossing buckets of water at each other during this festival festival, so onlookers would be wise to take precautions. Cities where carnivals reach a high point include Cajamarca and Puno.


Virgen de Chapi Feast

May 1 to 15 - Workable

Religious Feast created by colonial muleteers in the town of Chapi, located 45 km. (28 miles) South of Arequipa. The image of "Virgen de Chapi", is well venerated by the people of this area attributing to the virgin many miracles. Every year, thousands of pilgrims cross the desert from the city of Arequipa to the sanctuary of Chapi to worship the image of the Virgin of Purification, today known as the Virgen de Chapi. In 1790, the parish priest of Pocsi, Juan de Dios José Tamayo, tried to move the small image to another community and failed, reportedly because the statue suddenly became too heavy to move. News of the miracle spread like wildfire, and today the faithful take around 15 hours to walk 45 km through the night, leaning on rustic walking staffs to reach the deserted spot located at 2.420 meters above sea level. Before the first stop, the pilgrims gather stones of varying sizes which they will leave at Tres Cruces next to the road, forming the so-called apachetas which symbolize the weariness and sins that the faithful leave behind them. The same thing occurs at Alto de Hornilla and then at Siete Toldos, 15 km from the spot, with countless candles flickering in the night. The following day, in Chapi, the virgin is borne aloft in a procession over carpets of flower petals. At night, next to the sanctuary, pilgrims set off fireworks and sell foodstuffs.


Anniversary of Arequipa and Religious Celebration of "Señora de la Asunción"

Central day, August 15 - Workable

Civic-religious Feast. Parades, artistic festivals, religious processions, social parties and fireworks during the nights.


Santa Rosa de Lima Patron Saint of the Americas and the Philippines Feast

August 30 (Not workable - Pan-Peruvian)
Saint Rose of Lima (Santa Rosa de Lima) was the name given to a seventeenth-century inhabitant of Lima. Isabel Flores de Oliva felt a great religious vocation and dedicated herself to being a laywoman, without belonging to any religious order in particular. She was to spend her life caring for the sick and her penitence undertaken to resist sin, as well as her good nature earned her fame even while she was alive. Veneration of her figure spread not only in Peru but also to the Philippines. Her shrine, located in downtown Lima, is constantly visited by pilgrims in search of a miracle, especially those seeking to cure an illness. On August 30, pilgrims often cast letters detailing their needs into the wishing well where Saint Rose dropped the key from her cilice. Others visit the hermitage that the saint herself built. Saint Rose is the patron saint of Peru. Although her festival is celebrated across the country, it has a special Quechua emphasis in the town of Santa Rosa de Quives, in the highlands of the Lima.


Virgen del Rosario Feast - Moors vs. Christians

October 4th (Pan-Peruvian)

The Virgen del Rosario is the patron saint of the Dominican Order, who were in charge of the slave brotherhoods in colonial times. This is why the image of the saint is often accompanied by an icon featuring the letter "S" pinned on by a nail, symbolizing the black slaves. Worship of the saint dates back to 1536, and the festival is celebrated all over Peru. On the first Sunday of October, in Cajatambo, in the highlands of the department of Lima, the locals hold an agricultural fair, bullfights, marinera competitions and a procession featuring Los Diablos (demons) as the main dance act. In the district of Urcos, in the province of Quispicanchis, as well as in Combate and Checaupe, in the province of Canchis, department of Cuzco, locals celebrate the date with processions, bullfights and pachamancas, a dish prepared in underground pits and cooked over hot stones. The center of all Virgen del Rosario celebrations however is the northern Andean department
of Ancash. The celebrations are highlighted by the presence of pallas, ladies dressed in costumes with wide sleeves and tall crowns of flowers, and the famous negritos, dancers dressed in black wool masks who liven up the celebration. This festival features a symbolic confrontation between the Moors, locals dressed in Andean costume, and the Christians, who are dressed in Spanish outfits harking back to colonial times. The battle ends when the Moorish kings, having been vanquished and taken prisoner, repent and beg to be converted to Christianity. As dusk falls, the virgin's procession sets off back to church, accompanied by bands of musicians.


All Saints Day and Day of the Dead

November 1-2 (Pan-Peruvian)
Speaking to the souls of the departed On these days, which are dedicated to the memory of the dead, Peruvians tend to attend Mass and then in coastal communities, head to the cemetery, bringing flowers and in the highlands, food to share symbolically with the souls of the dead. The worship of the dead was a common and respected custom during pre-Hispanic times in Peru, and part of that tradition, combined with Christian elements, still lives on today. In the village of La Arena, in Piura, the locals head for the main square in the morning
bringing their children dressed in their Sunday best. Also attending are relatives who have lost a very young child or niece or nephew. When these people meet a child who looks like the deceased, they give him or her small breadrolls, candied sweet potato or coconut and other sweets wrapped in finely-decorated bags, which are called "angels". At night, the relatives hold a candlelight vigil in the cemetery until dawn on November 2. In Arequipa and Junín the bags of "angels" are replaced by breadrolls in the shape of babies, called t'anta wawas.


Danzantes de Tijeras

Physical agility and ritual challeng. From the Western point of view, the danza de tijeras, or scissors dance, is basically an impressive display of art and physical dexterity. But for the Andean inhabitants or mestizos who live in highland communities, it is above all a complex ritual. An air of mystery surrounds the danzaq, the dancers, who in a show of strength and flexibility, put their skill to the test with gymnastic leaps to the strains of the harp and the violin. Priests in colonial times claimed the dancers' magical halo was the result of an alleged pact with the Devil, due to the surprising feats they performed during the dance. These feats, called atipanakuy, include sword-swallowing, sticking pins into their faces, eating insects, frogs and even snakes amongst other Fakir-like acts. The central instrument of the dance is the pair of scissors, made from two separate sheets of metal around 25 cm long which together take the shape of round-bladed scissors. The dance is most commonly performed in Ayacucho, Apurímac, Arequipa, the Ica highlands, Huancavelica and Lima.


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