Facts & Figures
Words & Phrases
Activities & Festivals
We live in a time of great change and an increasing need for a celebration of diversity.
It is our goal to
create a greater understanding of the wonderful diversity in our world in a fun and family-centered manner with our Earthy Family
"Connecting the World" Series
Learn Spanish Today - Learn Spanish on-line for free, using interactive audio/visual lessons.
by no means all) of the Peruvian festivals are linked to the
Roman Catholic calendar and are celebrated with great tradition
and remnants of the ancient Incas who once ruled the land.
Entrega de Varas
1st of each year, the elders of each community (the yayas)
come together to pass on and celebrate the position of the
highest authority: the Varayocs, or mayors. The new Varayoc
receives a vara, or wooden sceptre, which is about a meter
in length and inlaid with gold and silver. The vara is a symbol
of the Varayoc’s power and authority. This ceremony
and festival dates back to the pre-Hispanic times and is celebrated
with Chicha (maize beer) and Ilonque (a sugarcane alcohol).
is another of the Incan festivals that has survived and is
celebrated annually in present-day Peru. It occurs on the
Winter Solstice (which is in June in Peru), and is a ceremony
of thanksgiving and spiritual preparation for the coming year.
of the Inca empire worshipped the Sun God,
whom they called Inti, and Inti Raymi was
a time to honour that god and his son the emperor. Held at
the winter solstice, when the sun was at it’s furthest
from the earth, Inti Raymi called on the sun god to return
to them. Days before the festival were spent fasting and restraining
from physical pleasures. Gifts were bestowed upon the emperor
(called the Inca) and, as Inti’s son, he provided a
festival feast after the sacrifice of the ceremonial llamas.
The sacrifice of animals was an important part of the ancient
customs and was done to ensure the successful harvest of a
prosperous crop. The guts and smoke from fires made of the
fat of the llamas were used to predict the events of the upcoming
year. The predictions were very important spiritual aspects
of the ceremony preformed by the high priests.
Raymi festival of today celebrates the Sun God and enacts
the ancient ceremony outside the city of Cusco, though the
sacrifice of the llamas is only feigned. Inti Raymi is one
of the most elaborate Peruvian festivals. It is celebrated
for several days with parades, traditional music and dancing.
Host your own Inti Raymi celebration by
honouring the sun. Hold a Peruvian feast
and make traditional Peruvian costumes (see Yahoo
Travel for a picture of traditional costumes used in
the Inti Raymi ceremony) and host a small Inti Raymi festival
(though you’ll want to avoid the llama sacrifice,
you can perhaps make an offering of traditional Peruvian
foods such as corn, potatoes, or quinoa – scatter
them in a bowl and take turns reading predictions for your
coming year in the shapes made by scattering them to replace
the reading of the llama guts and fat-fire smoke). Be sure
to play traditional Peruvian music – if your local
library doesn’t carry any, Amazon does.
fun sun ornaments to honour Inti, Sun God
of the Incan people.
To make miniature suns that can be hung in windows or used
to decorate a festive table, dry ¼” slices
of oranges in an oven at the lowest setting. Turn occasionally
and cook until dried, but not brown. To hang these ornaments,
use a needle to pull a thread through. Tie and hang in windows
or from potted plants. Alternatively, they can be scattered
on tabletops as giant sun-shaped confetti.
Make “stained glass” effect suns to attach to
windows with wax paper and yellow crayon shavings. Layer
2 pieces of newspaper, one sun-shaped piece of wax paper,
yellow crayon shavings, an identical sun-shaped piece of
wax paper (lined up with the bottom piece so that the rays
match up), and top with 2 more pieces of newspaper. Iron
at a low setting until the suns have stuck together to create
one piece of very pretty art. Use clear tape to attach to
Andean Christmas in Peru
Andean Christmas celebrates the birth of the Christ with
a Peruvian flare. Art and food highlight the celebrations
and nativity scenes play a big part in the Christmas celebrations.
Many of the scenes are carved out of the soft and pure form
of alabaster marble called Huamanga stone. Craftspeople
also create Christmas retablos images. Retablos are a style
of miniature carvings that when put together create a world
of their own. The retablos consist of tiny human figures,
animals, Christian saints, pre-Colombian deities, stars,
mountains, lakes and anything the craftspeople can imagine.
Beautiful carved gourds called ‘mates burilados’
decorated with Christmas scenes are also made.
Christmas feasts feature fresh fruits and vegetables.
are not normally exchanged during the Christmas celebrations,
but most communities continue the festivities until la Bajada
de los Reyes (the arrival of the three wise men), celebrated
on January 6th. Gifts are exchanged on this day.
the latter half of February and the first weeks of March,
Peru is alive with carnivals, as the communities prepare
for Lent. Lent is a quiet and sober time, but the Carnival
period preceding Lent is a very festive time. Parades, dancing,
street festivals and huge water fights can be found across
the country as people celebrate with abandoned joy.
each region has its own variations, they each share the
ritual of the Yunza. Yunza is also known as Umisha and Caramonte.
Yunza is a tree filled with gifts which is danced around.
While participants dance around it, they take a chop at
it with an axe or machete. The dance continues until the
tree is chopped down and the gifts are shared. The couple
that brings the tree down is in charge of organizing the
Yunza gifts and feast for the following year.
Picchu is the ancient Incan city high up in the Andes mountains.
It is located 12000 feet above sea level and was hidden
from outsiders for hundreds of years. While the Spanish
conquered nearby Cusco, Machu Picchu remained untouched
for several hundred more years. In 1911, an elderly Peruvian
guided an American archaeologist to the jungle encroached
ruins of the city and Machu Picchu was discovered and excavated.
The remains of the civilization led researchers to discover
Incan culture in more detail than ever before, but also
led to many questions. While it is obvious to travellers
who visit the site that nature and religion were intertwined
and extremely significant in daily life is clear, but it
is unclear to researchers how Machu Picchu, an entire city
made of granite and fortified so heavily, came to be vacated
so completely and left for the jungle to reclaim.
Learn more about Machu Picchu by exploring some of the following
readings, or making a model of the city out of paper mache.
Paper mache paste can be made with 1 cup of flour stirred
into 3 cups of water. Rip strips of newspaper and dip into
the paste one piece at a time and attach to your project.
Pictures of Machu Picchu can be found at: