Themes: Celebrations

Festivals in Mexico and Peru


There are many festivals and celebrations throughout the Mexican calendar, including: Cinco de mayo (May 5); El Grito de Dolores (Independence Day, September 16); El Dia de Los Meurtos (Day of the Dead, November 1-2 ), and The Feast of our Lady of Guadeloupe (December 12). Celebrations at these times are vibrant and colourful, with lots of music, dancing, and parading. Parades are accompanied by big round lanterns ( marmotas) and giant papier mache figures (monos). Often, costumed actors combine with the crowds, playing important characters or animals from tradition and myth. Historical and political events are also commemorated in Mexican culture. El Grito de Dolores marks the beginning of the fight for independence by Indian peasants. Rallied by the local priest, Father Miquel Hidalgo, in the town of Dolores, the local Indians fought to overthrow oppressive landowners, a dispute that led to the eventual liberation of all Mexicans.



Every year there are about 3,000 festivals celebrated across Peru. Many of these mix Spanish religious influences with indigenous traditions. Important dates are: All Souls Day (November 2); Carnival (February); Semana Santa (Holy Week); Corpus Christi (60 days after Easter); Inti Raymi (June 24). Celebrations generally involve eating, drinking, dancing, singing, and colourful processions. For the carnival, it is customary to soak each other in water, using water balloons and water guns. On Corpus Christi, effigies of patron saints are taken in procession to the cathedral, and a meal of twelve dishes is prepared. The largest festival in Peru is Inti Raymi (Festival of the Sun), marking the winter solstice and dawn of a new year. It was prohibited by the Spanish in 1572, but has since been restored. In Incan times, at the time of the solstice, the shortest day, people feared that the sun might be deserting them, and so organised the festival to appeal for the sun to return. Celebrants fasted for days before the event, refraining from physical pleasure and presenting gifts to the king. Llamas were sacrificed to ensure good crops and fertile fields.

Fireworks at a religious festival