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What is Easter in Cusco like?

What is Easter in Cusco like?

Easter in Cusco is a festive period that draws thousands of visitors from all over the world. The religious and cultural traditions of Holy Week mark this period with intense manifestations of faith. For the people of Cusco, this stretch of days leading up to Easter is especially important in marking their faith.

During the week of Lent, considered to be a time of penance, devout Catholics prepare for the celebration of Easter. Traditional processions and dress have been passed down from generation to generation as a way to preserve the faith. Here we tell you why Easter in Cusco is a date that celebrates not only tradition but also history.

How is Easter celebrated in Cusco?

Many churches in Cusco, including the Cathedral of Cusco, keep open doors during Easter to receive millions of devotees. Among the large crowds of participants and observers, processions take place and streets are filled with an energy of devotion and faith. This is how the celebrations begin.

Among the local beliefs, there is one that points out the healing properties that plants, herbs and roots acquire during Good Friday. For this reason, farmers from all over Cusco gather in the squares to offer an incredible variety of healing herbs.

Easter in Cusco procession

Señor de los Temblores procession

The “Taytacha de los Temblores” or Señor de los Temblores (Lord of the Tremors) gathers a large part of the population. Considered one of the main processions, it takes place on Holy Monday. As it is the day after Palm Sunday, the blessings have already been granted.

A crucified Christ of indigenous descent is carried through the main streets of the city and the Plaza de Armas in Cusco. The crowning moment of this procession is when the Lord of the Tremors blesses the believers as he is carried upon the shoulders of the porters. At this moment, tourists will witness the great devotion of thousands of women who cry at the image of the Andean Jesus.

Palm Sunday

Marking the end of Lent, Palm Sunday subsequently signifies the beginning of Easter. On this day the faithful attend mass throughout the morning to listen to the ceremonial psalm. In Cusco, this day is celebrated with the blessing of palm leaves and woven crosses, which are hung behind the doors of each home as a sign of protection.

As well, this is when many of the faithful will visit the Cathedral of Cusco – the most important church in the city. As early as five in the morning, the Palm Sunday mass takes place and is performed in the Quechua language. 

Holy Monday

Holy Monday marks the second day of Holy Week and is a symbolic day. VIsitors will witness the devotion of the Cusco population and thousands of faithful travelers who have gathered in the Plaza de Armas in Cusco. On this day the Archbishop of Cusco offers the Communion Mass in the Cathedral.

WIthout a doubt, the summit of this second day of Easter is the procession of Señor de los Temblores (Lord of the Earthquakes), considered the Sworn Patron of the city. Witnessing this procession is a truly unique experience as it is an example of deep faith and tradition that has carried on for several decades.

Holy Monday Easter in Cusco

Maundy Thursday

On Maundy Thursday, local authority figures (such as the mayor of Cusco) take part in the Blessed Sacrament during the day’s procession Masses also take place in all of the churches.

Traditionally, the bishop of Cusco performs the washing of the feet of twelve beggars on Maundy Thursday. Although the tradition continues today, it is now carried out with twelve elders. It is also customary to visit seven churches at night.

Good Friday

Good Friday is characterized by the tradition of the twelve dishes which allude to the twelve disciples of Christ. In the Sayllapata district in the province of Paucartambo, for example, soups made with Andean ingredients are typically prepared. Whether it’s the soup known as k’irku, made with tarwi, cheese, milk, and eggs, or soup made from whole chicken eggs, food always represents a special tradition.

As in many predominantly Catholic populations, red meat is abstained during Good Friday. In Cusco, dishes highlight Andean ingredients such as tubers (potatoes, ollucos), corn and wheat. Street vendors will offer these staples as well regional specialties like steamed trout and sauteed cod.

Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday begins with mass as early as 7am. For the faithful, this day is the most important as it represents the resurrection of Jesus.

If you are in Cusco on Easter Sunday, you will see that in addition to the masses held in the city’s churches, the procession with the image of the risen Christ is also present. With movement in the streets and typical food offered on every corner, Easter in Cusco is a vibrant time to visit  no matter your beliefs. 

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