Customs

Cuzco Springs into Carnival by Celebrating Compadres

The Mask of a Compadre in San Pedro Market

Cuzco celebrates today. Parties will last until late, perhaps dawn, just like every other year on this day, In all the markets, neighborhoods, and streets of our city, bright colors will appear as people make large figurines and celebrate their compadres.

Here, people who share a child, its parents and its god-parents, celebrate each other. They are joined in something very important and colored with joys, solidarity, obligation, and restrictions. In any case it is one of the most important relationship people have in Cuzco.

Today focuses on the men, the compadres, while next Thursday–in the build up to Carnival–celebrates women, the comadres.

Food and Frutillada to Celebrate Today
Food and Frutillada to Celebrate Today

All over the city there are celebrations today and hand made figures representing compadres will spring up like corn tassels in sunshine. The vendors in the various markets make it a point to celebrate today. On this day they are not only sales women and men but also people with compadres so the markets opened the day with bright decorations and will celebrate throughout the day.

For visitors and locals the celebration can be found in Cuzco’s central San Pedro market. The men and women depend on their ties with their compadres and so will break into celebration today and next Thursday.

When I spoke with one of the caseras, the vendors, in the food section of the San Pedro market while buying some lunch, she told me that it did not rain much in the last few days because during the celebration all the compadres will cry. The weather and people are joined together as one.

A Compadre Doll with his Computer and Beer in San Blas
A Compadre Doll with his Computer and Beer in San Blas

I remember hearing this while I was growing up. As this celebration would approach all the women would say that when it rains on the Day of Compadres, today, it is becayse all the compadres in Cuzco are crying with joy. They celebrate their day with lots of beer, chicha, and other drinks.

The same thing will happen on the Day of Comadres, a week from now.

The casera also told me that all the different sections of the market, where they sell different products, have organized themselves to make a large doll. They will give it the name of a known compadre who is respected by the people of the market.

A Compadre Doll in the San Pedro Market (Happy Compadre Day)
A Compadre Doll in the San Pedro Market (Happy Compadre Day)

The best ones, the ones that are the most attractive and most well made, enter into a contest. The people will vote and the doll that receives the most votes will hang from a beam in the middle of the market, right by the flower section. The winning section will be announced as a means of honoring the work of the caseras who own the doll. It will stay in its place all week long until the women get their turn on the Day of Comadres.

The winers fo the best compadre doll contest will receive a trip to Machu Picchu as their prize. All the vendors are excited and hopeful.

The Judges in San Pedro Market
The Judges in San Pedro Market

In the traditional neighborhoods of Cuzco, this day is celebrated in their plazas, outside their main churches, and in their main streets. In these places people set up a celebration filled with happiness and gusto.

For this celebration people of different social levels join together with each other, all of them celebrating in honor of compadres in general and their compadres in particular. Around them you will always find bands of musicians playing to start and keep the fiesta going with their varied and colorful, but always energetic music.

Beer, chicha, and other liquors will flow abundantly today. It is a day that should be vivid, colorful, and experienced deeply. To this end people will drink, eat, and dance, every one showing happiness, in a lively culture of fiestas, that unites the majority of Cuzqueños.

The Market of San Blas Decked Out Today
The Market of San Blas Decked Out Today

At midday, people gather to receive their dishes of food which the God Fathers had made for all of those present. From that moment on everything is liquor, music, more drink, and more music. It will continue to the last consequences, aroudn three or four in the morning, just before dawn.

All the people gathered, the balloons and the multicolored confettin make this a feast filled with energy and joy.

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