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NATIVITY CRIBS IN PERU

The Christ Child of the Andes

In the Andes, where Pachamama (Mother Earth)and the Apus (sacred hills) were venerated, where legends and myths were woven, religious festivities mingle rites of the ancient gods with catholic worship; because of this, in the sierra villages Christmas is different, with special features that have been continuously modified from the conquest up to our present time.

Christmas To Related image to the Multimedia Galleryis the feast of the Niño Manuelito or "Qapaqpa Churin"; for him are the offerings, the prayers, the songs and dances born of the fusion of Hispanic with Andean.There are several "Christ Children" in the Sierra.

Their origins are always associated with legends...Of the Lost Child of Huancavelica, an oral tradition that tells that he was Patron of the valley of Ica and how one day, by accident, he got lost. No one knows quite how the playful child turned up in the town of Huancavelica; thanks to some travelers, the townspeople learned of the place where he was and went out to rescue him.

In the fiesta, a group of dancers called "Negrería" pretends to arrive from the coast in search of the Lost Child, riding donkeys and horses, bearing produce of the region like cane liquor, wine, mangoes, watermelon, grapes, etc. With the dancing group comes a personage known as the "Marica" or "Maria Rosa", carrying her child, and the "Waqra Senqa" or "Abrecampo" ("Clear-the-way") with his "thunder" whip, opening a way for the "Negrería" that comes headed by the "Ambassador" or "Branquito". The latter reads a proclamation from "The Three Kings" on every street corner.

On the evening of the following day, they come out wearing silk bodice, straw hat and white pants, holding a little bell and a handkerchief. These "Negros" accompany the procession bearing candles and wearing square embroidered capes. They proceed singing joyfully in honor of The Lost Child.

Another famous Child is the "Niño Velakuy" of Huamanga, and although this Child never got lost like his neighbor in Huancavelica, he is equally celebrated and made much of by Huamanguinos.

The celebration begins on December 25th and ends February 2nd, day of the feast of the Mamacha (or Virgin) Candelaria. In every home there is placed a "Misterio" or Holy Family, made in Spain or in Cuzco or by some local sculptor.

The highlight of the night is when the "Niño Velakuy" (Candle-lit Child) receives the visit of the "atajos" and "weraqochas", local dancers disguised as "cop", "priest", "doctor", etc.

The feast of the Niño of Andahuaylas is a tradition deeply rooted in the people of the whole south sierra region. It begins in the district of Talavera on December 25th, on January 1st in Andahuaylas, the most important one, and on January 6th in San Jerónimo.

The feast of the "Santuranticuy" or sale of saints, held in Cuzco, is different. The old center of the Inca world becomes on the 24th of December a great, many-colored fair where country folk, shepherds, craftsmen and townsfolk take their saints and cribs, their Manuelitos and little churches, their toy animals and decorations and pottery, to swap or sell.


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