Today is Epiphany for the Christians, and let me tell you there ain't no Epiphany party like a Latin American Epiphany party!
The horns, parades, costumes and fireworks have been going strong all day. Never ones to miss out, we even sat in on the first part of an 8:00 am mass this morning at La Merced in Cusco.
The most interesting part of the celebration includes the rows of local ladies that have set up shop outside each church. They are all selling various plastic baby dolls (most a little creepy) and a wide array of outfits, accessories, and baskets for the dolls to sit in. Once your doll is properly outfitted, you bring it to church with you.(!) Young and old alike all do this, and it was quite a sight to see these dolls being carried to and from church all over town today.
setting up shop outside of La Merced
so many options! This was at 7:30 am
Baby Jesus in baskets, and an array of clothing options
I am assuming (and someone who knows more please correct me if I'm wrong) that these are meant to symbolize baby Jesus. Some celebrate Epiphany as either the day the 3 magi visited, and some celebrate it as the day Jesus was baptized.
According to Wikipedia: "Peru shares Epiphany customs with Spain and the rest of Latin America. Peruvian national lore holds that Francisco Pizarro was the first to call Lima"Ciudad de los Reyes" (City of the Kings) because the date of the Epiphany coincided with the day he and his two companions searched for, and found, an ideal location for a new capital. Even more popular in Peru than gift giving is the custom of the "Bajada de Reyes" when parties are held in honor of the taking down of family and public nativity scenes, and carefully putting them away until the next year."
Later today, we found ourselves in another city, Puno, on the banks of Lake Titicaca. The Rosca de Reyes celebrations were going strong there too! There was dancing in the streets, and an extremely long line to get in to the church.
The line to get in to the church
Do you see that? There was even a man selling cotton candy!
Have I said how much I love Latin America?!