Customs

Cusco’s Good Friday Customs

A Great Chuepe de Camarones (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)

Good Friday, a day celebrating the passion and death of Jesus Christ, is a day of reflection, where everyone laughs, tells stories, and shares experiences with their loved ones. It is important that the whole family be together this day. Along with everything else they eat the twelve traditional dishes. Every family has a different set of dishes, from soups and desserts to main courses.

More than anything else, this is a day of celebrating with family every year the immense faith, fervor, and devotion of our people.

When the day dawns it is custom to collect cactus thorns in the form of a cross. People usually go to the mountains where the cactus grow. Families have in their homes as a symbol of good fortune, the faith of the mountains. They place the cross above doors.

Baked Trout and Potatoes Frozen with Cheesse (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)
Baked Trout and Potatoes Frozen with Cheesse (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)

In addition, young people and adults, men and women, get up early to go up to the crosses on the mountains to receive lashes and forgiveness of their sins.

On Friday the twelve dishes are eaten. These twelve different flavors of delicacies are prepared from the products of the region. The main actor is fish. It is the most popular and most wanted ingredient. People stand in long queues to buy this marine meat.

Each family makes different preparations based on this ingredient. Some make fried fish, others ceviche. There are many ways of using fish.

People intend to eat fish and avoid red meat or other animal flesh

Some families prefer to eat trout. It is best since it is raised in trout ponds nearby. It is fresher. In our region trout is usually prepared fried or baked, although there are delicious dishes.

Among the soups you find are creamed corn soup, Friday soup , soup from lisas, etc. Among the main dishes are these fish or trout and capchi of broad beans. Among the desserts you find rice pudding, purple pudding, stewed peaches, empanadas,, little breads, sighs (meringues) and jurka bread.

Olluco with Fish Eggs (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)
Olluco with Fish Eggs (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)

It is customary to also watch Easter films, although most people know these movies by heart. Every year we watch the same ones. Sometimes we just listen to them while enjoying the delicious twelve dishes. Among the films are Ben Hur, The Passion of Christ, Moses, and the Ten Commandments. These are the most famous. The entertain us and allow us to an afternoon at the movies with the family.

The custom of eating twelve dishes is gradually being lost. Few families have time any more to prepare twelve courses. Mostly they just make the most important and they want to make sure there is abundant food. If you cannot make the twelve dishes, you at least try to make six.

Brayan, How does your family celebrate Good Friday ?

“On Good Friday my family gets together very early to make preparations to make twelve dishes.

“A day before my family tends to go to the Vino Canchón market to buy all the products needed to prepare different dishes. We make almuerzo de lisas (lisas lunch) with fish eggs, Creamed corn soup (lawa de maiz), an aji de tarwi, capchi of broad beans, fried fish with rice and salad, as well as desserts such as stewed peaches and apples, purple pudding, rice pudding, pudding made from raw sugar and flour and the Holy Week empanadas.”

Do you practice fasting on Good Friday in your home?

“In the morning we fast so that we can have the the twelve dishes ready by noon. When the midday arrives, the whole family has gathered at the table to have lunch. While we are enjoying every one of the dishes, we talk, remember, reflecting and also talk a little about the meaning of Good Friday. We really enjoy the food.”

Stewed Peach (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)
Stewed Peach (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)

What is your tradition to eat these dishes? Which comes first to awaken the palate ?

“We start with the soups such as the lisas lunch, creamed corn lawa which is one of my favorites. My mom is heir to the traditional flavors of Cuzco and we especially enjoy this cream. It is a treat.

“We then continue with the main dish of fried fish accompanied rice and salad, then capchi of broad beans, and an aji of tarwi.

We then eat our desserts: rice pudding, mazamorra morada, and stewed fruits. My mother serves each in small portions so that so that we can finish.”

What other traditions do you do today?

“In the afternoon, after enjoying these delicacies, we get to enjoy movies on the passion and death of Jesus. We have a good time together and and make wonderful memories to keep in the trunk of memories.”

Thanks Brayan. It. is very interesting and fascinating to know how your family celebrates Good Friday.

Arnold how do you celebrate Good Friday ?

“All families gather together a day before the main celebration. To get ready people go to the markets early to buy the ingredients. Since this is an important holiday, Holy Week, everyone agrees to be out shopping the markets mostly to prepare the twelve dishes which is one of their customs of this holiday.”

What traditions do you have in your family to celebrate this day ?

Empanadas and Maicillos (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)
Empanadas and Maicillos (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)

“When I was a child I anxiously awaited Holy Week to enjoy the desserts and the empanadas especially. That is why I was happy when Good Friday would arrive. I would get up early, before everyone, very excited. When my family would get up the first thing they would say was “today we will fast until noon.”

“As a result, all the males in my family would go to the soccer field to play soccer until midday, while the women and girls would make the food.

“When we came back, the dishes were ready, on the table, and we would enjoy them, all of us together. At the same time we would watch movies of Christ on television. They would make many people in my family shed tears.”

Our people have a rich tradition for celebrating Easter. You should come, dive in and explore our ancient culture.

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