¡Truco o Trato! Happy Halloween from Cusco

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Happy Halloween everyone!

These past few days have been jam-packed with Halloween festivities with our students. Danielle and I donned costumes to all of our classes, Danielle sporting a vampire cape and I a fluffy Stitch onesie. My fear that students would not recognize my costume and instead mistake me for an ambiguous blue fur ball was quelled by shouts of “¡Stitch! ¡Stitch!” every time I walked onto the playground.

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, so I was excited to discover that it is as big of a deal in Peru as it is in the United States, albeit with a few twists. Halloween in Peru is an interesting mix of practices that are familiar to Americans, such as dressing up in costume and trick-or-treating, and more traditional Peruvian customs. The girls were excited to tell us about their plans to dress up and ask for candy at local tiendas—in Cusco, the tradition is to trick-or-treat in stores rather than at residences.

Our students also informed us that in Peru, October 31 is not only Halloween, but also el Día de la Canción Criolla, or the Day of Criolla Music. Peruvians traditionally celebrate this holiday by dancing and singing into the wee hours of the night, which pairs quite well with the late-night revelry that is characteristic of Halloween.

Following Halloween on November 1 and 2 are All Saints’ Day and the Day of the Dead, two very important Catholic holidays. On these days Peruvians pay homage to family members who have passed away. People bring food, drink, flowers, and memorabilia to the cemeteries where their departed loved ones have been laid to rest, as well as host celebrations filled with music and delicious food. November 1 and 2 are official Peruvian holidays, therefore the festivities last for 3 days straight!

On Monday we kicked off the holiday early by having a Halloween word search competition in our English classes, teaching the kids essential Halloween vocabulary such as “mummy,” “ghost,” and “coffin.” On Tuesday we journeyed into the spooky laser tag arena in Magisterio with our Santoni class. Naturally we ended every class by passing out candy (gummy cerebros, to be exact), but only after the girls said “trick-or-treat!”

Today I came home from work in the early evening to see young costume-clad children already roaming the streets on the hunt for candy. Some were dressed in the recognizable costumes of witches and werewolves, while others were dressed in beautiful traditional Peruvian clothing. This blend of cultures provided me with a little piece of home on my first Halloween outside of the U.S., as well as a glimpse into the Peruvian interpretation of this holiday. We are looking forward to fully immersing in this cultural experience by enjoying the long weekend!

– Adrie

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