Holiday – Peru

“El 23 de Junio en la noche la gente del vecindario se reunia y hacia una fogata en la calle, quemando las cosas y ropa vieja. La gente para divertirse saltaba sobre el fuego y decian chistes. La ciudad asta rodeada de cerros y se veian fogatas a todo el rededor y era muy atractivo. Cuando todo terminaba apagaban con agua por seguridad.”

“On June 23, during the night, the people of the neighborhood gather and have a bonfire in the street, burning the things and old clothes. The people, to have fun and be entertained, jump over the fire and tell jokes.  The city is surrounded by mountains and when you look around you see small bonfires to all around in the mountains and it is very beautiful.  When we are all finished, they put out the fire with water for security.

Superstition: Go around the block with an empty luggage. It symbolizes that you will make a trip sometime in the next year. “


Norma Winston was born in Huaraz, Peru, a small town on the foothills of the Andy Mountain Range. She attended Santa Rosa de Viterbo Catholic school through high school, and graduated from the University of Lima Peru with a Bachelor in Science in medical lab technology. Growing up her family owned two farms run by local native Indian. Also, many Indians from the mountains would make the journey to town to trade and barter.

Norma was a young girl when she first celebrated the Day of the Indians on July 23rd and 24th. In Peru, there is a huge Indian population, descending thousands of years from their ancestors the Incas. This day was to pay tribute to them. It’s a tradition everyone did, for generation after generations, and still occurs in present society. She does not remember when it started. The next day everyone wakes up early and goes to clean up the street.

The superstition is something everyone takes part in. The empty suitcase is derived from burning old clothes or other unnecessary items. Thus, there is space for new items to collect. I feel like this is equivalent to America’s spring cleaning, getting rid of the old and making way for the new. Also, I noticed when one goes on a trip, on the flight or journey home, there are always more items that come back. Going with an empty suitcase, leaves room plenty of room for new items. I feel that these are very capitalistic notions that are engraved into society, common in North America but surprising coming from South America. These counties are classified as poorer countries where the means to replace burn items may be harder to obtain. Although it may stimulate the economy in North America, it may not necessarily do so in Latin America.

Meanwhile, the Indians or indigenous people of Peru were considered the poor of society, so then what did they burn? It quickly becomes apparent that although, the Indians were celebrated, they did not really partake in the celebration. One reason was their economic standing. They were too poor to burn cloths that would keep them warm during the cold winter. Also, the Indians did not live in the cities. They lived in the mountains and on the farms. Norma’s mother told her that sometimes they burned branches. However, I find it ironic to have a day dedicated to the indigenous population, if they are not involved. The Incas conquered amazing feats that rival the Seven Wonders of the World. I find it sad that not much more was recognized during the time period she was growing up.  It almost seems like it was a celebration geared for those that conquered and took control of the land so very long ago.

Additionally, in America we have regulated burn days, with very stick rules and regulations. To have a burn day the Air Pollution Control district must find a day that meets 17 different pieces of criteria. The days are not set, for the conditions must be just right. Also, specific areas are labeled no burn zones. Thus, you must live in a burn zone to be able to burn old items. This is interesting for the Amazon is in Peru and an accidental fire there will have more severe consequences than in the United States, as stationed firefighters watch the regulatory burn zones.