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Pumpkin or Zapallo? Halloween à la Cusco

Halloween Cancion Criolla

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Did you know? 31st October is traditionally Día de la Canción Criolla – Creole Song Day in Peru. This event was established President Manuel Prado Ugarteche in 1944, in order to celebrate Peru’s iconic creole music and the musicians of especially Afro-Peruvian, but also Andean origins. Over the past 20 years, especially in Cusco with the growing number of expats, the original music celebrating tradition has been mixing with the foreign jack-o’-lanterns and scary costumes. At the end of October shops and supermarkets dress into spider webs and black and orange balloons. Tiny plastic baskets in forms of skulls and pumpkins – so that the children have somewhere to put their caramelos – appear among the groceries.

31st October is here, the sun sets and another busy work day is over. One steps outside. ‘Boo!’ Witches and fairies… black pointed hats, pumpkins and glittering lilac or pink wings everywhere.

Halloween 1

The center of Cusco, mainly the Plaza de Armas, fills up with adults and children wearing costumes and asking for sweets saying: “Halloween, Halloween” – Cusco’s adaptation of ‘trick or treat’. If you are spotted with a pack of bonbons or loly pops that evening, you will transform into a magnet for children – there’s no escape.

‘One year, we gave out candy and every poor kid within 5 miles heard about it. They had about 5 masks between them and they would switch off so they could keep coming in to get candy. It was really cute. But after 3-4 trips to the store, we had to shut the doors,’ says Leslie, a former US ex-pat.

If you happen to be around Cusco on the last day of October, you will see it has a lot of excitement to offer. Is there no orange pumpkin to be found for a jack-o’-lantern? The green on the outside and yellow on the inside zapallos are sold all year long at each and every market around Cusco; typically as one of the key ingredients for soups. And, of course, different restaurants and discos will throw Halloween parties.

Halloween 2


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