photo of person from Peru Cerro de Pasco
culture and customs
spiritual beliefs

community activities
employment and income
justice and crime
social change
social relationships

introducing the area


 quotes about festivals
 key testimonies featuring festivals

These interviews are laced with references to the many festivals enjoyed by the communities of Cerro de Pasco. Some are Catholic; some have Andean origins; many reflect a variety of influences. Some are celebrations of certain rites of passage; other of particular events or communities. Each locality has a patron saint and to ensure that all goes well with the festival in their honour, every year someone in the community is appointed as the lead organiser. It is no small responsibility - as one man said: "Each year they decide who will organise the feast and if they don't do it there's a punishment. We say, '... if you're not a man, why do you get into this?" because we can't let God down and we can't miss his feast" (Peru 31).

Music, dance and song often play an important role in fiestas, and there are some detailed descriptions of the local dances. Some say that those who have left for work elsewhere no longer honour these occasions, but the majority of narrators say people do return to their communities for important festivals and so they serve to bring people together and remind of their identity and history. A couple of narrators are particularly knowledgeable about the history and development of the region's festivals, and provide helpful background.

quotes about festivals

"The fiestas always begin with the journey of the saint that you are celebrating.they have to preside over the fiesta, that's how it begins. It's a sign of gratitude to the saints for having given us one more year of life and to ask them to give us a blessing for the following year. [The custom is] inherited from the Spanish. We are very Christian and so are the fiestas, very religious and that's how they begin. Later we celebrate with dances from the region, the huaylas and other dances depending on the fiesta. They prepare the food and the dance competitions. They're beautiful, they're to find out who dances best. Sometimes people come from different places, from several different places and they compete."
Adela, F/59, campesina, Peru 13

"Well, as far as my research shows we have become a cosmopolitan city... The guitar, which is fundamental to our music, the guitar with its body of a woman, came from Arabia to Spain and then to Peru with the conquest or the invasion. We have Yugoslavs, Chinese, Germans, the Spanish themselves, Italians and Hungarians and each of these people come with their own customs. They have fused produce the unique experience of Carnival in Cerro de Pasco. They were all drawn by the mining wealth, basically around the turn of the century."
Victor, M/42, cultural researcher, Peru 25

"Then there are purely Catholic feasts as you must have seen, every village, every community has a saint in its name, that's part of the Catholic heritage. Rancas celebrates its patron saint, San Antonio, on the 13,14 and 15 of June. It's a very big feast but it's at the village level. We do the Chonguinada dance and there is an agriculture and animal husbandry fair, an exhibition of local dishes, horse racing... One custom that hasn't changed is that everyone goes to the Mayordomo's (master of ceremonies) house. The mayordomo is responsible for organising the feast.and making it happen."
Janios, M/40s, teacher/cultural promoter, Peru 26

key testimonies featuring festivals

  No.   Name   Sex/Age   Occupation   Location  
Summary Transcript   12   Victor   male/old   retired miner   Huaracayo, Yauli region  
Summary Transcript   13   Adela   female/59   campesina   La Oroya  
Summary Transcript   20   Ignacio   male/71   farmer/miner   Paccha  
Summary Transcript   23   Andrés   male/80s   farmer/retired mechanic   Huaynacancha (Old and New)  
Summary Transcript   25   Victor   male/42   cultural researcher   Cerro de Pasco  
Summary Transcript   26   Janios   male/40s   teacher/cultural promoter   Rancas  
Summary Transcript   30   Vicente   male/old   local history researcher   Rancas  
Summary Transcript   31   Ignacio   male/71   electrician   Huaranccacca  
Summary Transcript   5   Delma   female/54   leader of welfare org.   Quiulacocha