Cusco is a city very rich in traditions. Every month, we celebrate something and it is because it is a way of connecting with our culture and our ancestors. Now we have to celebrate “Todos los Santos”, although this is the denomination we use to remember the Day of the Living and the Day of the Dead. November 1 is actually All Saints Day or Day of the Living, and November 2 is Day of the Dead.
The customs that we have on these two days, not only serve us to remember, in the best way, the loved ones who have already left this earth, but also to be able to share with our family and visitors all these traditions.
Music and Colors in the Cemeteries
These days, especially during the Day of the Dead, cemeteries are filled with people, colors, and music, as people bring food, drink, and even musical groups to the graves of their loved ones. This whole tradition is carried out with the aim to pay tribute to and remember in the best way possible, the person who has died.
This custom can be seen in the cemeteries of the districts and provinces of Cusco. The closest to the city are: Jardines de la Luz in the district of Poroy and La Almudena and Huancaro, both in the district of Santiago.
Delicious Sweet Bread
During this season a bread is eaten that is commonly known as “T´anta Wawa”, a Quechua word that means “baby bread”. This is a tradition that has been around for many years in Cusco. This bread is made from flour, has a sweet taste, and is spongy, but also has the shape of a baby wrapped in a blanket. It is so well crafted that sometimes it’s a shame to eat it.
The forms of this bread vary, for that reason, you can choose whether to eat a “T´anta Wawa” or a horse-shaped bread. For any of the options you choose, I recommend that you accompany this bread with a cup of hot chocolate. It will be one of the best experiences your palate has had the delight of having.
The sweets are the best option this season and you will have many desserts to choose from because, in the main markets of the city and the squares, a variety of sweets are put on sale: Empanadas, meringues, “roscas”, “maicillos”, and much more.
The Crispy Piglet or “Lechon”
The main course over these two days is the Lechon, It’s very tender piglet meat that is crispy on the outside and soft inside. It is worth trying this delicious dish accompanied by tamal as it is a tradition to eat pork, and if it is shared with the family, that’s even better.
Fairs Throughout the City
On November 1 and 2, the “T´anta Wawa” Fair and piglet are found in most places in the city. It is in these fairs that you can find the sweetbreads that I have mentioned. Many ladies dressed in mestizo clothes and sell succulent dishes, a variety of desserts, and there are many other activities that will bring you a little closer to the cultural side of Cusco.
Even if you are in the Sacred Valley or in some province of Cusco, if you go to the central square of the area you visit you will find these fairs. However, if you are in the city, I can recommend you visit the Plazoleta de San Sebastián in the district of the same name, San Pedro in the district of Cusco, and the Vinocanchon Market in the district of San Jerónimo.
Christening of the “Wawa”
You will love this activity. It also takes place in the city squares and consists of performing a symbolic baptism of a “T´anta Wawa”, a bread that is more than 14 meters long, with a beautiful babyface. It’s the actors who put the charm into this activity because throughout the baptism they make jokes between themselves and with the public.
Generally, the cast is made up of the priest, who is the funniest of the group, his assistant, the parents of the “T´anta Wawa” and the godfathers. Sometimes these characters are interpreted by tourists, and with public participation, this activity is very fun.
One of the places where you can enjoy this activity is in the Plazoleta de San Pedro in the district of Cusco, where the baptism of the “T´anta Wawa” will be held, organized by the Municipality of Cusco for this 1st of November at 10:00 in the morning.
Take advantage of these two days to be part of all these activities and take the opportunity to try all the culinary delights that you have this season.