Actually, Peruvians do celebrate Halloween. But Peruvians also celebrate something else on October 31st: “El día de la canción criolla” (Criolla music day). Día de la canción criolla is a celebration of Peruvian music that makes us Peruvians really proud and ready to party. But party in a way that’s different from what you may think. What is criolla music anyway, and why do Peruvians always struggle about which holiday to celebrate?
Criolla comes from the word “criollo, ” which refers to the mixture of Peruvian indigenous and European. So criolla music is a kind of Peruvian music that was developed in the coast of Peru by the criollos, mixing Peruvian, European, and African instruments and tunes.
Criolla music is usually played by two basic instruments, acoustic guitar and cajón (a box-shaped percussion instrument developed in Peru). The songs are usually about romance or Peru. This is what makes criolla music so dear to Peruvians, not only its Peruvian origin, but also the passion with which the songs convey the wonders of Peru and love for the country. (See for instance this criolla music presentation at the Organization of American States)
Party the Peruvian Way
A typical celebration of día de la canción criolla is called “jarana” in Spanish, different from the word “fiesta” or “tono” for Halloween or other kinds of parties. Jarana includes live criolla music, beer, and dancing. But, unlike other parties, this one focuses mostly on enjoying the music and singing along, not on partying for the sake of partying or for the alcohol. That is why many times jaranas can be enjoyed by the whole family, can take place during the day, and are accompanied by criolla food (that is, Peruvian food from the coast).
Día de la Canción Criolla was originally established as a Peruvian festivity in 1944 by President Manuel Prado as a move to promote criolla music among other Peruvian music. In a broader context, in the midst of nationalist and communist voices that sought to reject anything foreign in Peru, the authorities started promoting local heritage to replace foreign cultural influences.
You are missing out
Of course you will not have a chance to experience a jarana or live criolla music unless you are in Peru. It would be just sad for you if you never try it out. Peruvians are increasingly leaving their costumes behind and having a blast at jaranas. We encourage you to join. Celebrate your next Halloween the Peruvian way with Global Volunteers!