The sun is setting as people rise in celebration. Little voices chant “Halloween, Halloween!” on doorsteps. Adults make their way to local restaurants and bars. Sounds familiar…but only few adults are costumed, groups of them are clad in purple, and “Trick or Treat” is nowhere to be heard. That is because it’s October 31st in Peru.
Growing up in America, we await the day we can pretend to be something we’re not. In Peru, they await the day they can celebrate who they really are. In October, Halloween is a mere backdrop to El Día de la Canción Criolla and Señor de los Milagros in Peru.
Proclaimed in 1944 by the Peruvian government, El Día de la Canción Criolla has become the centerpiece of October 31st celebrations in Peru. Criolla music combines African, Spanish, and Andean influences in songs that have become an expression of national identity in Peru. Below is a popular song, Rosa Té, performed by the famous Peruvian music group from the 50s and 60s: Los Troveros Crilollos.
As adults dance to the marinera, said to be the national dance of Peru, small children parade around in search of candy in return for their call of “Halloween, Halloween”. Children don’t call out “trick or treat” because the “treat” is taken too literally in Peru. Their costumes are very elaborate and vibrant, a tribute to their cultural heritage.
So that explains the chanting and lack of costumes, but what about the purple? Many people dress in purple for the month of October in honor of a famous painting, pictured below, named the Lord of Miracles:
The Lord of Miracles, or Señor de los Milagros, got its name following a massive earthquake, the largest Peru has ever experienced. This earthquake leveled Lima, the capital, on October 28, 1746, but it left one thing standing: the painting. Ever since, Peruvians have worn purple and paraded through the city of Lima with a replica of the painting. This painting is their miracle.
As the last traces of the sun disappear and October comes to an end, colorful costumes parade from house to house, seas of purple dance through the streets, and Criolla dances in your ears. Buenas Noches Peru.