By Hebert Edgardo Huamani Jara with help from Fernando Delgado Aguirre
October 31st, every year, Peru dresses up for a fiesta; it is the Day of Creole Song (Día de la canción criolla). However, it is also a day in which Halloween is also celebrated. Tourists come to Peru from all over the world bringing their own customs and they join in ours on this special day filled with Peruvian rhythms and soul.
Large numbers of people come to the Imperial City of Cusco, even though there are times when the numbers of visitors go down. In any case activity continues in our city. That is why the Plaza de Armas, the Main Square, is filled with places that offer fun: bars, discotheques, pubs, and more. On this day you will see their doorways and windows, as well as their insides, adorned with balloons, masks, pumpkins, and cottons stretched out like spider’s webs. In the monumental core of Cusco, fun reigns from now till the Day of the Living, the 1st of November.
Tonight, the Main Square, the Plaza de Armas, will be the most cosmopolitan spot. The majority of those present will wear costumes based on some superhero from TV or from different personages and celebrities. Of all the costumes last year three children caught my attention the most. They were dressed as Creole dancers, right out of the heart of Peru’s traditions. They were light skin but they painted themselves black, from head to toe, and carried pumpkins in their hands to gather candies. They walked under the archways of the square having fun and enjoying both celebrations: Halloween and the Day of Creole Song.
Today, live music will be offered in the peñas, bars, and garden restaurants of the city. They will put on a rhythmical show based on the cajón Peruvano, a Peruvian wooden box-like drum, and the guitar. The artists will perform covers of great Creole Artists, such as Eva Ayllon, Pepe Vasquez, Arturo Sandro Cabero, Bartola, and more. These singers and composers have been immortalized in their songs that capture the life of the people in song. Creole music has many varieties. You will enjoy danceable music—happy and moving, as well as songs for just listening that are gentle and romantic.
Creole music is good, joyful and fillend with energy. There are songs I love to hear and which I listen to wherever I go, not just during this celebration but whenever I want. One of those is from the great Eva Ayllón. She sings “this rhythm from Blacks, this enticing rhythm, this rhythm I celebrate here.” There is also the theme that says “he who plays and he who sings suffer from a dry throat.” These are just some of the many songs that will appear in parties, peñas, restaurants, and quintas throughout Peru today.
The Peruvian State, in its curricular plans, emphasizes our customs and commemorates important dates in our calendar. School children learn them. These days, school children have commemorated Creole Song. In some cases they have performed a traditional dance, in others they have interpreted a song to the rhythm of the guitar and cajón, or they have performed some gastronomic event and enjoyed Creole cuisine.
Yesterday, Friday, in many educational institutions, both preschools and primary schools, in the morning they celebrated Creole song. The children danced, laughed, and enjoyed the day along with their parents, companions, and the professors.
Cusco is a cosmopolitan city where foreign influences are almost inevitable. While people are happy they can celebrate what they wish. Of course many tourists also enjoy our Peruvian customs. They like our music, our food, dances, and more. All of this causes a feeling to bloom in them for our ways and our land.
Long live the party, the jarana!