27 October 2013

Fred Bust and the first Labour Day celebration

Frederick Robert Bust
The campaign for an eight-hour working day started in New Zealand in 1849, when Samuel Parnell, a carpenter with much-needed skills, landed at Petone Beach and refused to start work until he was granted an eight-hour working day starting at 8 am. But it wasn't until the 1940s that the first Labour government made the eight-hour day a standard working condition for the majority of New Zealand employees.

Throughout the hundred odd years it took for this to happen, the impetus for change was maintained through frequent worker agitation, and one such method was an annual Labour Day celebration. The first New Zealand Labour Day was celebrated on 28 October 1890. That date was the first anniversary of the establishment of the Maritime Council, an organisation of transport and mining unions. To celebrate the occasion and as part of an ongoing campaign for an official eight-hour day, the Maritime Council asked the other union organisations, the Trades Councils, to observe 28 October as a public holiday.

Around the country, workers united in the Labour Day celebrations, with parades in the main cities, picnics and sporting events for all-comers. In Auckland, as secretary of the local Trades and Labour Council, my paternal great-great-grandfather Fred Bust was the man called upon to organise the day's events.

This image is reproduced from the New Zealand Observer and Free Lance newspaper of 11 October 1890 (p.8). The caption reads: ‘The modern Nero; King Miller fiddling while New Zealand is being ruined. Music Galore! Fun for all! Mr Secretary Bust’s advertisement of Eight Hours Demonstration.’ The ‘King Miller’ refers to John Millar, a militant unionist who was at that time leader of the Maritime Council.

It is immediately obvious from the Observer's cartoon that the newspaper was critical of the planned celebrations, and this depiction of Fred Bust, as a rather rotund man dancing with a bottle of grog in hand, verges on the cruel. Fred was, in fact, a sober and religious person, a family man and a practising Methodist, but he never hesitated to voice his opinions. His loquacity and his physique made him a prime target for the cartoonist's pen.

Despite the newspaper’s criticism, Fred’s preparations continued apace and he sent a formal request to the Auckland City Council for their permission to hold the celebratory picnic on the grassy slopes of Mt Eden. It seems many employers and some members were keen for the Council to refuse permission but, as fate would have it, Nature intervened and a torrential downpour led to the postponement of the Labour Day celebrations on 28 October. The New Zealand Observer and Free Lance (p.1) reported the news:

Jupiter Pluvius has won the day for the employers of labour who objected to the proposed general holiday for the Eight Hours Demonstration. Mayor and Councillors, elected by the popular vote, would undoubtedly have given way and proclaimed the 28th of October a holiday; but the drenching rain supplied them with a plausible pretext for spoiling the plans of Labour without seeming to throw cold water over them. It is to the credit of the Labour leaders that they promptly recognised the finger of Providence and gratefully deferred their principle demonstration to the Prince of Wales’s birthday. Compromise and concession are the foundation of social harmony, and I sincerely trust the coming holiday will be observed with a hearty good feeling by all classes of the community.

Fortunately, a public holiday was imminent, the annual observance of the birthday of HRH Albert, Prince of Wales, so the Labour Day celebration was rescheduled to take place on that day. The unions, trades councils and their supporters were able to enjoy their festivities and the employers didn’t lose an extra day’s production – a positive and face-saving outcome for all parties.

The text of the New Zealand Observer and Free Lance’s cartoon of 1 November 1890 (p.5) (shown above) reads:

Labour and loyalty vanquish the demonstration damper.
28th October. Mayor Upton -- ‘Bless you, Jupiter Pluvius; you have got the City Fathers out of a difficulty. We didn’t want to refuse the ground, but now we must!’
10th November. Mr Bust -- ‘God bless you, Albert Edward -- we are both socialists, you know! Now we shall have a proper reconciliation of all classes, music galore and fun for all!

In spite of the problems beforehand, by all accounts the first Labour Day celebrations were a huge success. As this final illustration from the 15 November 1890 edition of the New Zealand Observer and Free Lance (p.18) shows, over 10,000 Aucklanders marched behind ornate floats decorated with colourful Union banners from the central city to Mt Eden, where the crowds then enjoyed picnics and sporting competitions. The illustration’s text reads: ‘Sketches of the labour demonstration and sports. Typ[ists] Ass[ociation] and the Devil. The Employers' Association viewing the Procession. The Butchers' Display. The Tailoresses' Race.’

Fred Bust's granddaughter Lilian Arthur recalled this particularly memorable event when writing the obituary of her grandfather that was published in the Auckland Star, 14 March 1919: 

One event ... stands out as a remarkable testimony of the moderate precedent and careful management of the interest, not only of the workers, but the community generally, namely, the great procession of unionists organised by the Trades and Labour Council. Some eleven thousand workers marched with banners flying and bands playing through the city to the top of Mt Eden, then lined round inside the crater to hear an address from Pastor Birch of the Baptist Tabernacle, also speeches of other leaders of religious, political and labour opinions. An outstanding feature of that day’s proceedings was the perfect order and discipline secured by the leaders of the movement. That earned for Mr Bust and his fellow officials high praise from all classes.

So, this Labour Day, when you’re out enjoying your walk along the beach or firing up the barbie or planting your tomato seedlings, spare a thought for those early battlers, like my great-great-granddaddy Fred, who fought to bring us this annual day off.

20 October 2013

Diwali in Auckland

Auckland central came alive to the sounds of Bollywood this weekend when both Aotea Square and a couple of blocks of Queen Street were transformed into a little bit of India. The Auckland Diwali Festival included stalls selling delicious Indian food and vibrantly coloured Indian clothing, as well as a constant flow of music and dance, both traditional and contemporary. My favourites were the younger dancers, who looked stunning in their gorgeous costumes. 

Here are some of the things that caught my eye. Happy Diwali!

Aotea Square was buzzing

The food stalls were popular 

Even the retail therapy was colourful

Getting henna designs painted on various body parts was popular

The people-watching was interesting

Not all the little dancers were Indian 

What great performers!

The traditional dancing was superb

Aren't they gorgeous?

13 October 2013

Four Ponsonby churches

Modified from: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZ Map 3926
Last Saturday I enjoyed another guided walk, from amongst the huge selection offered as part of the 2013 Auckland Heritage Festival, a walk around four churches in the inner-city suburb of Ponsonby.

We started at St John’s Methodist Church (working from the bottom right red blob in this image to the top left), then continued along Ponsonby Road to the All Saints Anglican, before turning left into Jervois Road and walking along, firstly, to the Ponsonby Baptist Church and finishing further along still at the St Stephen’s Presbyterian Church.

So, starting with the Methodists … This wonderful old church, dating from 1882 and built of kauri in the Gothic Revival style, still retains its original colour scheme. Paint colours were very limited back in the late 1800s, so most buildings were painted cream, with decorative details and roofs either painted a barn red or Lincoln green.

Prussian immigrant and master craftsman, Anton Teutenberg (he of the High Court heads and gargoyles), carved the wonderful pulpit and corbels on the windows, whose stained glass offers beautiful examples of Art Deco design.

The congregation of this church reflects the changing population of Ponsonby itself. Originally home to Auckland’s middle class, whose women would have been active in the early suffrage movement, Ponsonby saw, in the 1960s, both a reduction in the numbers of Europeans attending church and an influx of Pacific Islanders who did, so the church became the centre for the Auckland District Samoan Fellowship. Though most Pacific Island families cannot now afford the million-dollar price-tags of the heritage houses in Ponsonby and other inner-city suburbs, the church remains their much-loved and much-used centre of worship.

Teutenberg's magnificent pulpit
Outside the modern All Saints Anglican Church is a wonderful old pohutukawa tree which the church’s brochure romantically suggests was where ‘Bishop Selwyn met with the people of Ponsonby, probably in 1865, to discuss building the church that became the first All Saints’. It’s a good story but, as this 1879 image clearly shows, the tree is not that old.

All Saints Ponsonby, 1879, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-308

The image depicts the original All Saints, first opened in December 1866. Sadly, that wonderful old wooden structure was demolished in the 1950s to make way for the present church. The church’s brochure also waxes lyrical about how special this modern church is but the 1950s Richard Toy design, though its large open interior and concertina-shaped brick walls are modelled on Coventry Cathedral in England, didn’t particularly impress me. Modernism simply isn’t my thing.

The church does have a beautiful wooden ceiling – apparently containing 6 and a half miles of timber! – and there are some lovely stained glass windows set into the lower parts of the chevron brick walls, images of such saints as Augustine of Hippo, Margaret of Scotland and the Venerable Bede.

We moved on to the most austere of these four churches, the Ponsonby Baptist Church, founded in 1880. I love the simplicity of this wooden building. It has no stained glass windows because the Baptists prefer the pure light of God streaming through their windows and its Classical Greek style was felt appropriate, as Jesus and his disciples, being of diverse nationalities, would have spoken Greek to one another. It would not originally have contained a cross either – the current cross is a relatively recent addition, added about 20 years previously and made of old telephone poles.

The most ornate thing in the church is the organ, originally brought to New Zealand by Samuel Marsden for the old St Paul’s Church in the central city (since demolished) and one of only 10 John Avery organs remaining in the entire world. It dates from 1779 but was sent to England for restoration six years ago so its sound is as sweet today as when it was first built. We were very lucky to be treated to a chat about the history and workings of this magnificent musical instrument, and a short recital.

The final church, St Stephen’s Presbyterian, is currently closed for services due to worries about the risk of earthquakes, part of the government and local authorities’ knee-jerk reaction to the devastation of the Christchurch earthquake. Auckland, as most people know, does not have a high earthquake risk and it is generally stone, not wooden buildings which are most at risk of collapse when earthquakes do occur. Luckily, the closure is being challenged by the church authorities, with the support of experts from the University of Auckland’s Schools of Architecture and Engineering, as it is a huge shame that people cannot more readily visit this magnificent structure.

Built of kauri in 1875 in Gothic Revival design with a standard rectangular shape, the church was expanded thirty years later into its present cross shape. It has a tin external roof and holes in its ceilings and wall panels, which were originally intended to let out the fumes from the gas lighting and kerosene heaters. The interior hammerbeam roof is magnificent, and has the additional and apparently quite unusual feature of metal rods connecting the spans. Another unusual feature is the sloping floor, intended to give parishioners seated in the back pews a better view.

Rather than a cross or a fixed altar, the central focus of the church is the large organ, which was originally powered by a hydraulic pump but is now motorised. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to hear this one in action.

In front of the organ sit five chairs, the central ‘God’ chair, reserved for the minister, and two chairs on either side for the church elders. This is, I have now learnt, a common feature in Presbyterian churches. Before these chairs, on a table, lay an open bible, another common feature. In fact, some of our group recalled the bible being processed in and out of their churches, a means of emphasising the Presbyterians’ belief in the importance of the bible as the word of God.

Not being a religious person, I learnt a great deal during this guided walk, but what I enjoyed most was the magnificent architecture of the three older buildings. Long may they survive the evils of developers … and earthquakes!

05 October 2013

Auckland walks: Symonds Street Cemetery

Our rather dapper-looking guide, dressed in period costume
Two hours meandering around a cemetery may not be everyone’s idea of a fun Sunday afternoon but it is mine! With a knowledgeable guide to explain the history of the site, to point out heritage flora, to tell the tales of interesting pioneers and to clarify the meanings of gravestone decorations, this resting place of the dead was magically brought to life … and there wasn’t a ghost or zombie to be seen!

The guided walk was part of the Auckland Heritage Festival, an annual event which this year runs from 28 September to 13 October. There’s a programme of events throughout Auckland  – so many, in fact, that it’s difficult to choose which to attend as they all sound great. I’ve chosen to learn more about inner-city Auckland where I live so this will be the first of a few blogs about these heritage meanderings.

With burials dating from the early 1840s, Symonds Street Cemetery was Auckland’s first, though it was closed after just 40 years and, except for additional members of families already buried at the cemetery, deceased central Aucklanders were later interred at the newly opened Waikumete Cemetery instead. This was partly because the city was growing at such a pace that the cemetery grounds were soon surrounded by houses and businesses and partly because the Victorians had become aware of the dangers of disease caused by decaying remains contaminating their ground water.

The cemetery is not as unified as its name implies: there are, in fact, five separate cemeteries, one each for the Jews, Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Presbyterians and Wesleyans, and they are each quite different in character, a reflection of the individual religions’ beliefs about idolatry and the use of decoration. The gravestones of the Wesleyan section, for example, are relatively plain, in keeping with the conservative nature of the religion itself. The Wesleyans were, however, very inclusive – they allowed the burial in their consecrated grounds of those who had committed suicide, which in earlier times was not permitted by Catholics and Anglicans.

The material used for grave-markers ranges from local stone to fine Italian marble, with many graves also surrounded by fences of finely worked wrought iron. Most are not local creations but were brought from Europe – apparently, after the introduction of the refrigerated ships that carried New Zealand produce to Britain, the practice was to fill the hulls of these ships with heavy items like gravestones and iron for the return journey to New Zealand, so much of the ornate marble decoration was actually carved in Italy and only the names of the deceased were added by Auckland masons.

Some years ago I completed a university paper called ‘The Art of Death’, about the iconography of death in Ancient Greece, so I found our guide’s explanations of the gravestone decorations particularly fascinating. For example, did you know that a broken column signifies a life cut short and, if that column has a wreath of flowers or leaves carved around it, then the grave is almost certainly for a young woman? Were you aware that a draped urn was a symbol for the uncertainty of life, or that images of hands being shaken indicate the hands of the deceased and the living clasped in farewell? Did you know that the unusual shape of the passionfruit flower was interpreted as symbolic of the crucifixion, or that the depiction of the tree of life, symbolising a family of several generations, is quite common on Victorian gravestones?

As well as flora carved in stone, the Symonds Street Cemetery also contains some heritage plants, escapees from funeral wreaths and survivors of plants planted by loved ones. Roses ramble over rusty railings (sorry, couldn’t resist the alliteration), camellias have grown into huge trees, and you can even find the occasional burst of bright pink oxalis flower – not the invasive weed all gardeners’ dread, but an ornamental variety commonly grown in Victorian flowerbeds.

The passionfruit flower, symbolic of the crucifixion

I have no personal connection to any of the people buried in the Symonds Street Cemetery – at least, not any more. A 19-year-old great-great uncle was buried in the Anglican section in 1869 but his body was one of the thousands disinterred during motorway construction in the 1960s. But the cemetery is the final resting place of some famous early New Zealanders and of many of Auckland’s founding families. Governor William Hobson lies here, as do many early mayors and businessmen and their families. The remains of Baron de Thierry and several members of his family were amongst those disinterred in the 60s.

As a family historian, I have spent many hours walking around cemeteries looking for ancestors’ graves but these two hours exploring the Symonds Street Cemetery were by far the most interesting yet.

02 October 2013

Peru Festivals and Events Calendar

Peru is a country rich in traditional festivals and colourful events. Plan your Peru vacation to coincide with one of these and you will be treated to a visual symphony of colour and/or energetic traditional dancing in the streets and/or delicious morsels of native cuisine and/or humbling displays of religious fervour. The choice is yours!



Fiesta de la Santa Tierra (Festival of the Sacred Land), Lake Titicaca.
3rd Thursday in January  Many tourists take a two-day tour on Lake Titicaca, spending the night on the beautiful Isla Amantaní. If you time your visit right, you may see how the island population splits in two, with one half at the Temple of Pachamama (representing Mother Earth) and the other half at the Temple of Pachatata (representing Father Earth), to pay homage to the bounty of the earth.

Marinera Dance Festival and Contest, in Trujillo
Last week in January
 The marinera, a flirtatious traditional dance of seduction (see photo, left), originated in Trujillo but this festival sees competitors flock from all over Peru to take part. As well as the colourful dance competitions, there are parades throughout the city and dancing in the Plaza de Armas.

Fiesta de la Virgen de la Candelaria (Festival of the Virgin of Candelaria), Puno
First two weeks in February  The Virgin of Candelaria is Puno’s patron saint and, every February, the city comes alive to honour her with a huge, brilliant, flamboyant festival of traditional dancing. The costumes are dazzling, the musicians rambunctious, and the dancers tireless.

Festival Carnavalesco or Carnaval (Carnival), throughout Peru
Begins 40 days before Easter Sunday, so dates change each year  Everyone has heard of Rio’s famous Carnaval, but the action gets pretty lively in Peru as well, with Cusco, Puno and Cajamarca all fun places to be. The festival gets underway with the “Day of Compadres", featuring flowers, paint and water, as well as colourful parades of dancers. Expect to get drenched by water bombs so buy a can or two of spray foam or silly string and join in the fun!

There is also a traditional aspect to the festivities, a local ritual called the yunsada or yunza, where locals dance around a tree adorned with gifts, before it is ritually cut down. Although this is more common in outlying areas, it can be witnessed in the suburbs of cities like Cusco. And, on the eighth day after Carnival, the octavo, another, even larger procession of dancers is held in Cusco’s Plaza de Armas.

Festival Internacional de la Vendimia (La Vendimia International Wine Festival), Ica
Second week of March  Grapes are grown in the region around Ica – famous for its wine and pisco brandy - so what better reason to have a festival that the grape harvest. Locals celebrate with a parade of colourfully decorated floats, beauty contests, a fair, music festivals and, of course, a plentitude of food and drink.

Senor de los Temblores (Lord of the Earthquakes), Cusco
Monday before Easter, so date changes each year  You may be aware that much of Peru is prone to earthquakes. In 1650, a massive quake hit Cusco and the legend goes that the tremors stopped when a painting of Christ was carried around the Plaza de Armas. This miracle is commemorated each year with a solemn procession of an image of the Lord of Earthquakes and the faithful of Cusco.

Semana Santa (Holy week – Easter week), throughout Peru but particularly in Ayacucho and Cusco
Dates change each year  Easter is a global Christian celebration, of course, and, in Peru, the celebrations are a curious mix of the international and the traditional, though events show the strong influence of the Spanish colonial era. On Good Friday, unlike the traditional fasting, family and friends gather for a feast of twelve special dishes, twelve for the Twelve Apostles.
In Ayacucho, a city famous for its 33 churches but a rather long bus journey from Cusco, the celebrations are particularly reverential and last for over a week. Ayacucho is internationally acclaimed for its Easter ceremonies, for the devotional processions of effigies of Christ and the Virgin Mother, covered with thousands of lit candles, and for the piety of its people.

Peruvian Paso Horse Festival, Pachacámac, near Lima
15 to 20 April  The Peruvian Paso horses are special, quite small but very elegant because their gait is that of a pacer not a galloper. This festival celebrates Peru’s special breed with national competitions in rider-controlled and hand-guided movement. Their grace is complemented by the elegance of their riders and handlers, dressed in flowing ponchos and broad-brimmed sombreros.

Virgen de Chapi Festival (Virgin of Chapi Festival), near Arequipa
1 May  Although the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Chapi is located about 45 kilometres from Arequipa, many devout Catholics from throughout Peru undertake a religious pilgrimage to the Sanctuary on foot as a sign of their reverence and devotion. The faithful often walk through the night, carrying beautiful handmade candles to light their way and leave at the shrine. The following day, a replica of the Virgin is processed, and then the faithful celebrate with traditional music and dancing, feasting and fireworks.

Fiesta de las Cruces (Festival of the Crosses), Cusco, Lima and Ica
2 to 4 May  This religious festival is celebrated in much of Spain and Hispanic America but, in Peru, indigenous traditions have been assimilated into the Catholic practices. On 2 May, the Day of the Descent, small, portable crosses are taken down from the hills and sanctuaries to the houses of mayordomos, the people who are willing to pay for the festivities and new 'clothes' for the Cross. The people feast and enjoy live music until the following morning, when the Cross is dressed in new fineries (see photo, right) and taken to a special mass. On the third day, 4 May, called the kacharpari, a farewell mass is held, after which the cross is returned to its normal resting place and more feasting and partying takes place.

Festival Internacional del Cerveza Cusqueña (Cusqueña Beer Festival), Cusco
May / June (dates change)  Cusqueña is the local beer of Cusco and every year, in May or June, the brewery sponsors a 3-day international music festival in Cusco. The festival attracts musicians and young people from all over Peru, and often features international artists as well.

Señor de Colloritty/Qoyllor Riti (Lord of Qoyllor Riti), near Cusco
Approximately one week before Corpus Christi  As many as 10,000 pilgrims take part in this annual event, climbing to the snowline on Mount Ausangate to worship the Apus, the spirits that the indigenous people believe dwell in the mountains. The pilgrimage is a curious mix of traditional and Catholic ceremonies, with performers in costumes representing mythical creatures dancing in veneration of the mountain gods, and some of the more intrepid locals climbing to the mountain’s summit to bring back blocks of ice, to be used as holy water for purification in Catholic ceremonies.

9th Thursday after Easter  The Corpus Christi celebrations in Cusco are a complex blend of Catholic ceremony and Inca tradition, celebrated 60 days after the resurrection of Easter Sunday but also coinciding with the high point of the Inca ceremonial calendar, when crops are being harvested and ceremonies are held to honour the Sun gods and Inca ancestors for their bounty. The Spanish assimilated the Inca tradition of parading the mummified bodies of their ancestors into their Catholic Corpus Christi ceremony, in which fifteen saints and virgins from various parishes in and around the city are paraded through the streets.

Inti Raymi (Festival of the Sun), Cusco
24 June (and celebrations throughout the preceding week)  This hugely popular, world-famous event is the highlight of the year in Cusco. The festivities re-enact the Inca rites of the winter solstice, starting with early morning ceremonies at the Qorikancha Temple of the Sun, followed by a procession to the Plaza de Armas for further ceremonies, then a full afternoon of rites and dancing at the nearby Inca ruins of Sacsayhuaman. Inti Raymi is the culmination of a week of exuberance in Cusco, with daily displays of traditional dancers in vibrant costumes in the central city.

Fiesta de San Pedro y San Pablo (Feast of Saints Peter and Paul), throughout Peru
29 June  Although this saints’ day is celebrated with parades throughout Peru, the major celebrations take place near Lima and Chiclayo as these are the patron saints of fishermen and farmers.

Virgen del Carmen (Virgin of Carmen), throughout Peru but particularly in Paucartambo and Pisac
15 to 18 July  The Virgen del Carmen, the patron saint of the mestizo population, is honoured and celebrated with four days of celebration in the towns of Paucartambo and Pisac, near Cusco. As with most Peruvian celebrations, there are traditional performances by dancers dressed in the most amazing psychedelic costumes, parades through the streets, copious amounts of alcohol and food are consumed, and the loud booms of fireworks fill the night air.

Fiestas Patrias (Peru’s Independence Day), throughout Peru
28 & 29 July  Peru’s independence from Spain in 1821 is marked throughout the country by official parades, followed by much merrymaking in the form of parties in homes and restaurants, as well as entertainments like cockfighting, bullfighting and even Peruvian Paso horse exhibitions in some towns.

1 August  August is the month dedicated to Pachamama, the Earth Mother. Homage is paid to Pachamama throughout the month, in the form of private offerings of food, drink and some precious items. The most obvious sign that the Andean New Year has begun is the sight of the yellow confetti that is sprinkled around the outside of people’s homes and properties.

Fiesta de Santiago (Festival of St James), Isla Taquile on Lake Titicaca.
25 July and 1 & 2 August  If you happen to be on the island of Taquile on these dates, you will be treated to vibrant displays of dancing in honour of St James.

Fiesta de Santa Rosa de Lima (Festival of Saint Rose of Lima), throughout Peru but particularly in Lima
30 August  As Saint Rose is the patron of the police and armed forces, their personnel take part in solemn processions to honour their patron. The major celebration takes place in the Plaza de Armas in Lima.

Fiesta de la Virgen de Natividad (Festival of the Virgin of the Nativity), throughout the Cusco region but particularly in Chinchero
8 September  The Virgin of the Nativity’s special day is celebrated by her devotees carrying her statue through the streets, accompanied by flamboyant dancers and cacophonous musicians. The evening is a haze of eating, drinking and making merry. The most dazzling festivities take place in the small rural town of Chinchero, near Cusco.

Senor de Huanca (Lord of Huanca), near Cusco
14 September  Although the 14th is the main day, the celebrations at the Sanctuary of the Lord of Huanca (right) last a full week and include an overnight pilgrimage from Cusco, daily masses, self-purification by the faithful in the waters of the spring behind the Sanctuary, and a huge fair where stallholders sell all manner of religious paraphernalia.

International Spring Festival, Trujillo
Last week in September  Celebrate the coming of Spring with parades of decorated floats, displays of marinera dancing, and dancing in the streets, in the colourful city of Trujillo.

El Señor de los Milagros (Lord of the Miracles), Lima
18 October  To celebrate an image of Christ that survived the devastating 1746 earthquake and many subsequent disasters, both natural and man-made, many thousands of devotees, all dressed in purple, form the largest procession in South America, and parade the depiction of Christ through the streets of Lima for almost 24 hours.

Fiesta del Señor de Luren (Lord of Luren Festival), Ica
3rd week in October
As with most other religious celebrations, the wooden image of the crucified Christ of Luren is carried in procession through the city of Ica, in this case from dusk till dawn of the following day. The celebration dates from 1570, when the image was lost while being transported from Lima to Ica, only to reappear in mysterious circumstances.

Todos Santos (All Saints Day) and Dia de los Muertos (All Souls Day), throughout Peru
1 & 2 November  These two days honour the saints and the dead, and are commemorated with days of prayers and Masses in churches throughout the country, as well as night-long candle-lit vigils with deceased loved ones in cemeteries. All Saints Day also involves the preparation of special food: bread is baked in the shapes of dolls and horses and taken to the cemeteries, and families feast together on pork.

Puno Week, Puno
1st week in November  Coinciding with the Day of the Dead celebrations, Puno holds a festival to celebrate the legendary Manco Cápac, the Inca who supposedly surfaced from Lake Titicaca to found the Inca empire. Thousands join a procession from the lakeside to the town stadium, where the celebration continues with music and dancing and much drinking.

Fiesta de la Purisima Concepción (Feast of the Immaculate Conception), throughout Peru
8 December  The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is honoured by devotees with parades and processions, special Masses and cultural festivities, and feasts of traditional foods with family members.

Chocolatada, throughout Peru
Throughout the Christmas season
The chocolatada is an essential part of Peru’s Christmas celebrations, especially for those who are less well off, from impoverished children to poor pensioners. Churches, charitable organisations, businesses and well-off individuals give cups of hot chocolate and panatone (a type of sweet bread containing dried fruits) to the underprivileged to bring a little Christmas cheer into their lives.

Santikuraray ("the selling of the saints", an artisan’s fair), Cusco
24 December  On Christmas Eve, Cusco’s Plaza de Armas is closed to traffic and, instead, filled to bursting with stalls selling all manner of arts and crafts. Stallholders also sell all the ingredients the locals need to make nativity scenes in their homes, from wooden mangers, straw and moss to figurines of the characters who were at the birth of Christ. These nacimientos (nativity scenes) can be found in most homes and churches until 6 January, the date of la Bajada de los Reyes (the arrival of the three wise men), the traditional date for the taking down of Christmas decorations.

Andean Christmas, throughout Peru

25 December  Like Christmas around the world, this is a time to be spent eating and drinking, spending time with family and, for the religious, attending Mass in your local church.

New Year’s Eve, throughout Peru
31 December  Yellow is the luckiest colour in Peru, so it is traditional to wear yellow underwear on New Year’s Eve and to festoon your home or business with yellow-coloured decorations and flowers. As in many countries around the world, there are parties to welcome in the New Year, in homes, bars and restaurants, and people gather in the main squares to enjoy music and dancing, and to count down the hours, minutes, seconds to midnight, when deafening fireworks announce the beginning of a new year.