Thursday, 28 March 2013 10:10
This week we are in the midst of Semana Santa here in Cusco. As a traditional city in a Catholic nation, this week brings events for worship and family to Cusco. As always in Peru, the complex cultural history of our nation brings some indigenous traditions in to the mix as well.
The week of Semana Santa begins on Palm Sunday. Here in Cusco, thousands of devotees gather in the Plaza de Armas to purchase plant cuttings- grasses, palm fronds and herbs from the vendors gathered there. They then enter inside the Cathedral for mass to have their fronds blessed in a special ceremony. Afterwards, these greens are hung in their homes as a symbol of faith and good tidings.
The next day brings Señor de los Temblores. The figure of Los Temblores is a dark skinned Christ on the cross, which is said to have been made by the Spaniards as a more relatable Christ figure intended to cement the religious conversion of the Incas. Each year on Easter Monday, the figure is carried through the streets of Cusco, stopping at altars made at several important churches, and ending in front of the Cathedral. This region has been subject to several serious earthquakes throughout its history, and the local people believe that by celebrating Señor de los Temblores, he protects them and the city from damaging earthquakes.
Good Friday brings a procession, in which the faithful carry a cross and make a pilgrimage to the cross on the hills above Cusco city in the park of Sacsayhuaman. Many families also prepare a traditional meal of 12 courses, without meat or leavening, to remember the Last Supper.
Easter Sunday is a day spent among family and with the church by attending traditional mass ceremonies.
Children, like in many other parts of the world, also look forward to the abundance of sweets during Semana Santa, from rice pudding, to meringues, to sugary empanadas for sale in the streets of Cusco.
This week is an important one in Cusco, full of culture and tradition, and very special to those who make their home here.