Here in Cuzco the vast majority of the people are now taking Halloween as a tradition when, up until very recently, it was not celebrated much. It has exploded only in the last few years and yet it is now important, though it has its own peculiarities.
From early in the afternoon, costumed children children will go from store to business to store and so on asking for candy. Since so much of the city’s population is fairly humble, people think that their neighbors would probably not be able to give out candy to spooks, witches, Batman, and smurfs. In wealthier neighborhoods kids do go door to door, but in most of Cuzco they go to businesses which give them a treat almost as soon as they come in the door.
The kids on the whole don’t go with their parents, like in some places, but instead roam with their friends looking for candy.
The Main Square, the Plaza de Armas, begins to fill with costumed people around four in their costumes and with little children in tow or in arms. They promenade through the crowds in the square to see and be seen. Only here, it is increasingly expected that tourists will hand out candy to the people in the square.
Often the tourists don’t know this, but it is amazing how many seem to come prepared to share sweets with the people of Cuzco.
It is like going to a costume party. Everyone looks at everyone else. They take pictures, laugh, and comment. It is a lot of fun.
Cuzco’s discotheques hold special Halloween parties this night. They will generally award a prize to the person with the best costume and continue through the night with a lot of other competitions. Both the discotheques that are for locals as well as those for tourists celebrate with thematic events, but the tourist clubs are more lavish int ehir decorations and prizes. The large discotheques will all have live music.
Even restaurants decorate their locales for the holiday. Often they spread spider webs in their rooms and make table decorations that emphasize Halloween.
Both the discotheques and restaurants will print flyers and posters announcing their events. They fill the walls and posts of the cities with them, giving it a colorful and goulish air. There are specials to try to pack the people in on this party night.
Groups of friends will also hold their own parties just to spend time together. They take advantage of the night to spend time with each other having fun, since the next day–the deeply rooted Day of the Dead followed by the Day of the Living is mostly celebrated in the family.
But that is tomorrow. Today is Halloween and this new international tradition increasingly takes over the city.
Nevertheless, there is another holiday celebrated this day that is very Peruvian, the Day of Creole Song (Día de la Canción Criolla). It is a day when the classical music of the coast with its traditional ensemble of instruments is supposed to be celebrated and heard.
Peruvian President Manuel Prado Ugarteche declared October 31 to be the Day of Creole Song in 1944.
Celebrated in Cuzco’s schools, today school children will dance a marinera–a classic coastal dance of courtship– or a vals, a lowland waltz and will play the cajón, a wood box used for percussion, and guitar.
Events are also organized to celebrate the day and will be held in various lo
cales of Cuzco.
But on the whole, despite the creole music’s relationship with national identity, Cuzco has its own music and its own traditions. As a result of this, and the enormous power of Halloween, the majority of business will not make much effort to celebrate it. Instead the night of frights begins.