Every year during the week running up to Easter, the streets of Cusco are filled with vibrant religious processions. This year, Semana Santa runs from Sunday 17th until Sunday 24th of April.
Celebrations begin on Sunday 17th, Palm Sunday or ‘Domingo de Ramos’. This day families go to church with palms and ask for blessings. Following this on Monday, Cusco adds its own unique twist to Easter festivities and dedicates celebrations to ‘El Señor de los Temblores’ or ‘The Lord of the Earthquakes’, the patron saint of Cusco.
Around 2pm there is a procession with a beautifully decorated statue of the Saint through the streets of the old city of Cusco. In the evening the procession reaches the Plaza de Armas, where thousands of people flood into the square to watch as the Saint is taken to the Cathedral and blessed to multitude.
Throughout the week you will find people selling traditional sweets and cakes of Easter in the streets, or especially in the main markets of the city.
On Good Friday, many families carry out the tradition of ’Doce Platos’ or 12 plates of food for lunch, followed by a period of fasting. This is their way of remembering Jesus reuniting with his 12 apostles on this date. In the early hours of the morning of Saturday morning a final procession takes place. Young men carry a cross from the Plaza of San Francisco to the ruins of Sacsayhuaman.
By Resurrection Sunday the processions are over and families spend the day in their house eating a traditional meal or perhaps go to church.