Why not come to learn Spanish in Peru in March or April? From the 20th to the 27th of March 2016 you will be able to witness a fascinating festival in the city of Cusco that combines Andean and Christian traditions: Semana Santa. The Holy Week in the ancient centre of the Inca Empire is considered one of the most important weeks of the year and gives us an exciting insight into Peruvian culture: the perfect setting for a Spanish immersion course in Cusco. Don’t miss this unique experience and don’t miss the special discount! (see below)
Taking us back to the events of 1650, the procession of Holy Monday marks the beginning of the festivities. On this day, the black figure of Christ is carried out into the public and is followed by crowds of sightseers hoping to get a glimpse of the significant statue.
Passing by important churches of Cusco and arriving in the Plaza de Armas, this march points to historic events that date way back in Peruvian history and have been conserved until today. The black Christ, or “Señor de los Temblores” (Lord of the Earthquakes) was given to the indigenous population of Peru by the Spanish King in the 17th century, as the Spaniards were struggling to spread Christianity in Peru. The King of Spain had the black figure of Christ presented to the descendants of the Incas in the hopes that it would be easier for them to relate to a dark-skinned figure of Christ. At the time that this gift was presented, an earthquake occurred in the city of Cusco in the year of 1650, promising destruction and suffering. However, during the procession, the earthquake stopped and the population was spared from the disaster. Ever since this day, the figure of the black Christ is considered the city´s patron and is carried out every year in the march of “Lunes Santo”.
This custom also sheds light on another ancient tradition in Peruvian history. It dates back to the times of the Inca, when on special occasions it was common to take out the holy mummies from their temples and carry them on altars all throughout the city. For the sake of spreading Christianity, the King of Spain ordered that the mummies be replaced with saints and virgins.
Thursday and Friday of the Semana Santa are equally as important as national holidays in Peru.
Every year during the last week of March or the first week of April (depending on when Easter falls that year), celebrations of old Christian traditions are mixed with the indigenous roots of Peru. Many devout Catholics fast until Thursday in order to partake in the sufferings and humility of Christ, breaking the fast on this day in remembrance of the Last Supper Jesus had with his disciples. Peruvians, in another mix of Catholic and indigenous customs, celebrate Maundy Thursday and the Last Super with twelve special dishes that represent the twelve disciples of Christ.
In an attempt to revive all twelve of the original plates prepared for Semana Santa, a food festival called ‘Cusco Mijuy’ (in Quechua: Cusco Eats) was established during Holy Week to celebrate the unique plates that developed in Cusco to accompany this Catholic celebration.
The Holy Week in Cusco, where Catholic tradition has historically been combined with indigenous Andean beliefs, forms a unique cultural festivity. This truly fascinating event should not be missed!
Spanish in Semana Santa!