Cuzco´s Carnival Began with the Day of Compadres

In Cusco, it is a tradition for carnival to begin with a celebration of all compadres, co-godfathers, the men who share responsibility for children. This celebration honors most men who together carry out the activities and social relationships that give and sustain life.

Color, streamers and even colorful costumes were the name of the day. Compadres had their faces painted and celebrated by enjoying a delicious frutillada, a chicha with strawberries blended in, and the emblematic puchero stew. It was a full fiesta through the morning in the city.

Compadres cusqueños (foto: Walter Coraza)
Compadres cusqueños (foto: Walter Coraza)

As the afternoon came, the different neighborhoods of the city joined in. In San Blas and San Cristóbal they made a parranda. Each year they raise a yunza tree and all the people dance around it to the rhythm of Cusco’s carnival music which local musicians perform. There is nothing better than drinking chicha and beer, eating, and celebrating with the people of your neighborhood on this day.

Despite the variable weather of Cusco and the rains that come and go in the month of February, the moisture did not impede the celebration.

As a joke, it is a local custom to hang a compadre doll which satirizes some man (compadre) in the social, political, and entertainment world of Cusco. People create rag doll that looks like him, write his name and funny sentences on small banners or signs in order to get the pubic to laugh.

Despite the rainy weather, the women’s good humor kept all going. They made jokes to their men. They said, “the compadres are crying,” “they are wacateando,” using the Quechua verb for to cry, waqay. To this, the compadres responded “our comadres do not have any affection for us. Look how they make us suffer.”

Carnival has now begun in the city of Cusco and throughout the region. It is a time of joy.

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