In this article we will have a look at the three main festivities in Cuzco during January: the Feast of San Sebastián, the Feast of Chiaraje (Warrior’s Ritual) and the Descent of the Three Wise Men.
The Feast of San Sebastián
History tells us that the image of San Sebastián was taken to Cuzco a few years after the arrival of the Spanish conquerors in Peru, and that he quickly became the patron saint of the Indians.
January 20th is the main day in the Feast of San Sebastián in Cuzco. On this day there is a morning mass, and once it concludes, the main procession begins; the image of the saint is carried through the whole district of San Sebastián (Cuzco).
The Feast of San Sebastián in Cuzco is accompanied by several displays of oral tradition, music, dance and food. It also serves as a vehicle for socializing and establishing trade bonds. Declared as being part of the Cultural Heritage of the Nation, it is one of the most traditional cults in the region of Cuzco.
The feast of Chiaraje (Warrior’s Ritual)
On January 20th the Feast of Chiaraje (Warrior’s Ritual) also takes place.
The Feast of Chiaraje is a warrior’s ritual of ancient roots led by the inhabitants of the high provinces of Cuzco. It consists of a ritual fight between the inhabitants of Checa and Quehue, who fight one another in war games that are meant to increase the fertility of the land.
The men are armed with slings, leather whips and sticks, and they wear vests adorned with flowers. At the height of the ceremony more than 500 men can be found at the simulated battlefield throwing stones with their slings. The ceaseless and disturbing noise of thousands of stones hitting the ground truly brings an adrenaline rush to anyone that attends this Andean ceremony.
The descent of the Three Wise Men in Cuzco
On January 6th the people of Cuzco celebrate the feast of The Descent of the Three Wise Men in Cuzco, a religious tradition coupled with beautiful dramatizations, processions and popular feasts, celebrated in a particular manner in the towns of Ollantaytambo and Cuzco.
The Descent of the Three Wise Men culminates with popular feasts and processions which go through the main streets of the town and pass by many of its churches: San Cristóbal, San Blas, San Pedro, Santiago and the Central Cathedral of the Plaza de Armas in Cuzco.
The many festivities in Cuzco, even the ones from a religious origin, reveal the Peruvian nature, both men and women have a sociable disposition and tend to share their hopes of prosperity.