From the category archives:

Peru’s cultural history

Peru Day on Wall Street

by admin on March 22, 2011

On March 11th, Wall Street celebrated “Peru Day.” This distinction was made in honor of Peru’s remarkable growth and potential for international investors. Those who attended the event and listened to speeches from Peru’s finance minister and central bank president snacked on asparagus and drank Pisco. (Peru is the world’s top exporter of asparagus.) Part of the reason Peru’s economy is booming is due to the growing middle class. There is now a great demand for goods and services throughout Peru. Six other South American countries have received special days on Wall Street, and Peru has finally joined them. There have been very hard economic times in Peru in the past, but right now Peruvians are enjoying a wonderful period of growth and expansion within their own country and international markets.

Carnival Celebrations in Peru

by admin on March 7, 2011

There are colorful and interesting festivals throughout Peru at almost any time of the year, but this time is particularly eventful, with Peru‘s version of the Mardi Gras holiday. This week the region of Ayacucho held their Carnival Festival, with parades, floats, costumes and music. Cajamarca held a similar festival, which also includes a celebration of the Incan King Momo and his burial in the historic Banos del Inca complex. In Iquitos, locals celebrated the Amazonia Carnival, with traditions like palm tree chopping games and treats for children. The next festival will be the Vendimia, or Grape Harvest Festival in Ica, which includes the Queen of Wine Pageant and pisco tasting booths. There are many festivals and celebrations to attend while visiting Peru, no matter what time of year you go. Be sure to check for events before you travel.

Aji de Gallina

by admin on February 25, 2011

So we’ve talked about how important potatoes are to the Culture of Peru and Peruvian food, but how about a specific example of a great Peruvian potato dish? Aji de Gallina is a classic Peruvian comfort food, and the kind of dish you could expect to be served at a Peruvian’s dinner table. The most traditional way to make it is with hen, which is where it gets the “gallina” name, but it is just as good with chicken. If you buy a rotisserie chicken and shred it you can make Aji de Gallina in minutes. The most important ingredient is Aji Amarillo paste, which is available from Mama Tina’s online. Other than that, evaporated milk, some white bread or saltine crackers, walnuts, and a few basic spices is all is takes for an authentic Peruvian meal. Once all of these ingredients are mixed in a blender and the nuts are completely ground, spread the sauce and chicken mixture over boiled potatoes. Garnish with hard boiled eggs and Peruvian olives, with white rice on the side if desired. Google Aji de Gallina for different recipes, choose your favorite, and enjoy a Peruvian meal tonight.

Artifacts to be Returned to Peru

by admin on February 24, 2011

After a long controversy, Yale University in New Haven, CT (USA) will be returning priceless artifacts to Peru that have been in their possession for a century. The artifacts were taken by Yale historian Hiram Bingham on three trips after he rediscovered Machu Picchu in 1911. Bingham was backed by the National Geographic Society, and took many crates of artifacts to the United States. The artifacts had been on display in Yale’s Peabody Museum. The Peruvian government argued that the artifacts belong in Peru, and after a dispute Yale has agreed to send them back. The artifacts will be on display for at least a week at the government palace before traveling to a permanent museum location in Peru. Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd said, “These artifacts do not belong to any government, to any institution, or to any university — they belong to the people of Peru.”

Peruvian Scissor Dance Intangible Heritage

by admin on November 16, 2010

The Peruvian Scissor Dance is a fascinating tradition in which dancers snip and twirl blades as they jump, spin and move between the floor and the air. It was recently added to UNESCO’s Intangible Heritage list, giving it international recognition. The list was formed in 2003 to preserve art forms and traditions around the world in a time of globalization. It is a tradition dating back to the 16th century, when dancers supposedly used it as a way to express their resistance to the Spanish conquest in Peru.

The Start of Civilization

by admin on February 6, 2010

The start of civilization on this planet can be traced back to six cultures throughout the world. They include settlements in Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, India, Central America and Peru. Caral, Peru is one of the oldest cities in the world, and is still one of the most important archaeological finds of all time. Located in the Lima Region, it is only two hours north of the country’s current capitol. Before researchers discovered Caral, they did not believe that a complex agricultural society had existed in the Americas until one million years later. However, the main Caral settlement and temples date back to around 2600 BC, making them older than the pyramids in Egypt. Researchers believe some of the smaller settlements in the area may be even older. They also believe Caral was home to about 3,000 people, and that their innovative ways of fishing and irrigating their land made their civilization a success. Eventually, the town was abandoned, and it is widely believed that the people of Caral migrated due to an extreme drought. This site is now preserved as an invaluable piece of history, and tourists travel there to see one of the places where human civilization started.

A Beloved Peruvian Singer/Songwriter

by admin on December 24, 2009

Peruvian music may not be well-known internationally, but many Peruvian waltzes and other classic songs have played an important role in Peruvian culture. With thousands of festivals each year, Peruvians often enjoy their traditional music while celebrating historical figures and anniversaries. When it comes to the coastal music of Peru, one of the most beloved Peruvian singer/songwriters is Chabuca Granda. Her most famous song is “La Flor de la Canela,” which many consider to be the most popular Peruvian waltz of all time.

Peruvians celebrate many Christian holidays and festivals each year. In Peru, October is known as el mes morado, or “the purple month” because religious Christians wear purple as they take part in processions celebrating El Señor de los Milagros, the Lord of Miracles, a Peruvian image of Jesus Christ. It is said that in 1651, a newly converted African slave painted the image on the wall of a building in the Pachacamilla area of Peru. Other slaves started to flock to the painting, leaving gifts and praying in front of it. In 1655, an earthquake hit the area, destroying all of the walls of the building except the one with the image of Jesus Christ, but it went unnoticed by the general public. In 1670, a local man found the image and built a shrine around it, and was reportedly cured of a life-threatening tumor due to his devotion. At that point, the public began to worship the image, and church authorities began to worry it would negatively affect the order within the church. They ordered several painters to cover the image, but none of them could bring themselves to do it, so they eventually built a church at the site, which is now called the Las Nazarenas Church. Supposedly, another earthquake hit the area in 1687, and again the one wall with the image survived. A painting of the image was taken out for a procession for the first time in October of that year. “El Señor de los Milagros de Nazarenas” was named the patron saint of Lima in 1715, and is still celebrated each October. If you travel to Peru during this time, you may see the processions of Christians wearing purple, celebrating this miraculous image. 

Saint Rose of Lima

by admin on August 27, 2009

Peruvians celebrate many festivals throughout the year. A particularly important one will be celebrated this week in Lima – the Feast Day of Saint Rose of Lima on August 30th. She is said to have been a very beautiful young woman who refused marriage and devoted herself to a life of solemn life of prayer and charitable work. She is the patron saint of Lima and of Peru, the Americas, the Philippines, India, anyone who is ridiculed for their piety, and gardeners and florists. She was the first Catholic saint of the Americas, often depicted wearing a crown of roses, with the Holy Infant at her side. This week, people throughout Peru and America will celebrate Saint Rose with special masses and gatherings.

The Conquest of the Incas

by admin on August 25, 2009

The vast empire that the Incas established was nearly unprecedented. While the Incas certainly were capable of using violence when necessary to further their cause, they also used a sophisticated strategy, always attempting to absorb neighboring villages instead of destroying them. They did this by sending out emissaries to the next targeted province, including one or two princes from the royal families. The meeting of these two parties consisted of the newly arrived Incans offering two alternatives to the region’s inhabitants. One option was to arrange for these princes to marry two of the high ranking females in the society, as a sign of commitment that the incoming rulers would respect and care for the people of the town. In response to a rejection of that offer, an attack would ultimitely result in triumph through the death and destruction of their citizens.  Needless to say, many of the towns and villages saw the wisdom of merging into the growing Incan empire, allowing a great deal of its expansion to take place swiftly and peacefully. Today, a trip to Peru shows visitors that the Inca culture shaped the country that exists today.