Cruz Velakuy: The Day of the Cross in Cusco

Every year the crosses of the city of Cusco dress in colors and flowers because it celebrates a traditional festival of religious, folkloric and culinary customs, we refer to the party of Cruz Velacuy. This festival begins on May 2 as a serenade to the crosses, being May 3 the main day.

The origin of this important Cusco tradition dates back to the eighteenth century when it was just a family and private celebration. The cross is a symbol of Catholicism that represents the passion of Jesus Christ, after the invasion of the Spanish the cross was a symbol of struggle to evangelize the Indians and imposition of the Catholic religion on the Andean religion, placing crosses on top of the mountains which were considered Apus, sacred protective deities.

This celebration is characterized by the unique one of the families, neighbors and catholic believers. For the realization of this celebration the neighbors of each neighborhood are organized with 6 months of anticipation to choose a butler who will be the person in charge of planning and carrying out the whole festivity. The carguyoc or mayordomo will be in charge of distributing special j’urka breads to ask for donations to relatives, friends and other people. After receiving the donations, the preparations for the main day will begin.

Cruz Velakuy Cusco (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)
Cruz Velakuy Cusco (Photo: Walter Coraza Morveli)

On the main day the first act is the central mass, where the devotees move the cross accompanied by local bands. After the mass the cross is transferred to the house of the steward and placed on the altar prepared for veneration. The butler offers a lunch and a party in his room. The next day the cross is moved to its place of departure saying goodbye until next year.

A very significant example of this festival is the one celebrated in the Recoleta temple of the enclosure of Cusco, where there are 3 crosses each with its butler, bands, music and dancers.

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