An Arequipeñan Easter!

Depending on where you’re from, you might think Easter is
all about bunnies and chocolate eggs. That definitely seems to be how things
are back home in England, where the traditional message of Easter gets hidden
somewhere behind all the chocolate wrappings. Well, that’s not quite how things
go down here in Peru (although there is a lot of food!).
This week has been lively so far, with the streets full of
people coming to see different churches carrying statues of Jesus and Mary
through town. On Friday and Saturday, back at people’s homes, tons of food is
cooked! Semana Santa is a time for families to get together for all sorts of
great Peruvian food such as fish dishes, different soups and desserts. Every member
of the family usually makes at least two dishes, so it can be an absolute
Fanesca, traditionally eaten on Viernes Santa (Good Friday)
I asked fellow HOOPster,
Tom, who’s staying with our Peruvian homestay family, how the celebrations have
been at his casa. “I was lucky enough to be invited to join my host family for
dinner yesterday, and we had a rich dish with all kinds of seafood and fish,
which is traditional on Viernes Santo – Good Friday. There were four different
desserts, and my host family insisted I try them all, and have seconds, which
was great since I love desserts. We think of corn as just a savoury dish, but
Peruvians will make pretty much anything out of it, including a fruit pudding
in a kind of sweet, purple corn jelly, called mazzamora. It’s better than it
sounds! They’re also really big on arroz con leche, which is pretty similar to
rice pudding.”
On the Easter Sunday, a
traditional broth is made with seven different types of meat. Arequipa
celebrates this day slightly differently to other cities, with the burning of
an effigy of Judas, which will take place in the main square.
Semana Santa parade in Plaza de Armas
Cuzco is also known for having a memorable Easter Week. It
all began after a major earthquake occurred in 1650, causing destruction
everywhere – apart from the Cathedral of Santo Domingo. Legend has it that a
painting of a crucifix helped protect the people inside. From then on the city
holds an annual event, El Senor de los Temblores (“The Lord of the
Earthquakes”). Thick, smoggy clouds of incense fill the streets. Many people
help to hold up El Senor, who is then paraded around the city. It’s meant to be
quite the spectacle with a whole spectrum of colours filling up the streets.
If you’re in Peru this week then you are in for an
experience! Celebrations across the country are a great chance to immerse
yourself in traditional Peruvian culture. If you end up somewhere exciting, let
us know!
By Oliver Adams

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