June 12, 2012 From Peru: Corpus Christi celebrations

by guest blogger Kezia Huseman
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Altar representing the fifteen saints and virgins

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San Cristobol being paraded around the Plaza de Armas.

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Saint Peter (San Pedro)

Sixty days after Easter Sunday, the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, Corpus Christi is observed around the world, celebrating the Holy Host.  In Peru, the biggest Corpus Christi celebration is in the heart of Cusco in the Plaza de Armas.  This year Corpus Christi was on Thursday, June 7th.

In Cusco, fifteen saints and virgins from area churches are carried to the main square from their chapels the Wednesday prior to the celebration.  The holy fifteen sleep in the Main Cathedral until the following day.  On Corpus Christi, following a blessing of the Plaza de Armas, the fifteen saints are paraded around the plaza in a grand procession that lasts around six hours.  Each saint is carried by faithful followers and accompanied by a band, dance troupe, and other members of the church.  After their procession, the fifteen saints and virgins reenter the Cathedral where they stay for a week.  The next Thursday, la octava, the fifteen return to their home churches, carried once again and accompanied by faithful devotees.

While the festival seems strictly religious, in Cusco, it is actually linked to the prevalent Incan heritage.  Before the Spanish conquest of Cusco, the Incas paraded around what is now the Plaza de Armas carrying sacred mummies.  These mummies were kings and other royalty and high officials; the Incas paraded around the bones of their ancestors to demonstrate and celebrate the continuation of Incan reign.  To ease the conversion from Paganism to Catholicism, the Spanish maintained the traditional Incan rituals and procession, but with holy saints.

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A young child dressed in traditional clothes, parading as part of the procession

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Devotees carrying the saint.

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Saint Blaise (San Blas)

The traditional dish that goes along with this religious holiday also connects Cusco to its historic past.  Chiriuchu is Quechua (language of the Incas) for “cold spicy.”  This traditional Cusqueñan platter, served with chicha or beer, is compiled of chicken, pork, sausage, cured meat, a corn tortilla, seaweed, caviar, toasted corn, hot pepper, cheese, and, the star of the meal, guinea pig – which was a common source of meat for the Incas.

Nowadays, nearby the procession in the Plaza de Armas, San Francisco Plaza is converted into the Chiriuchu Gastronomy Festival.  The small plaza is filled with over a hundred stands, all serving Chiriuchu.  To get out of the sun and get some grub, people stroll up the side streets taking them to San Francisco Plaza.  Well over a thousand guinea pigs are served on Corpus Christi in Cusco.

Corpus Christi really exemplifies how Cusco is a city full of traditions blended from the old and the new.  Just around the corner now is Inti Raymi (Festival of the Sun) which is a celebration that epitomizes the rich Incan heritage of Cusco.  Because of all the festivals going on, June is considered the month of Cusco, and Corpus Christi is just the beginning.

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June 4, 2012 PC’s UK Office and Henley Store Celebrate the Diamond Jubilee

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April 27, 2012 PC Unveils its Remodeled Retail Store in Santa Fe

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PC has reopened its beautifully remodeled store in Santa Fe, NM.   Occupying the corner of Guadalupe and Montezuma Streets, in the heart of the revitalized Railyard District, the store features our newest offerings from the current season.
Aiming to visually transport PC brand devotees to a 19th century ethnographer’s study, replete with Victorian wallpapers, well-worn furnishings, old photographs and  intriguing objects—vestiges of years of travel to exotic places–the store provides the perfect context for PC’s cross-culturally influenced collections of apparel and accessories
Santa Fe, the oldest capital city in North America, and at 7000 ft., the highest, has been home to Peruvian Connection retail since 1994, but PC customers and others will now have an irresistible reason to pay another visit to the store.
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April 17, 2012 Spring is in full bloom at PC headquarters

As the weather continues to get warm, our garden continues to grow and grow.

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The chickens scratching around in the dirt.

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Orange poppies really brighten up the garden

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A few Iris have already begun to bloom in the Iris garden.

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March 15, 2012 Tonganoxie, Kansas meets Cusco, Peru…Part 2

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Kezia in front of Saqsaywaman, the main fortress protecting the city of Cusco.

We all know that what started it all for Peruvian Connection was when 19-year-old Tonganoxian, Annie Hurlbut, went to Peru for an archeological dig with her university. She fell in love with Cusco, and well, the rest is history…

I am from Tonganoxie, Kansas. And I’ve now been living in Cusco, Peru for 13 months.What makes small-town farm girls from Tonganoxie, Kansas fall in love with Cusco? Well, it’s not a hard question to answer for those who have ventured to South America and experienced the charm of Cusco, but for those who haven’t yet had the opportunity, let me explain: Cusco, the capital of the ancient Inca Empire, is quite simply, a magical, captivating place.

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Qorikancha in the evening.
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Qorikancha during the day.

How did I get here? Well, I was 20 years old and it was my last summer of university. I went to Peru for 11 weeks, volunteering at a low-income medical clinic in Cusco proper and at a biological research station in the jungle. After my summer adventure, I wanted more, but, I went home because 12 credit hours were all that separated me from my BS. I went back, finished my last semester, and graduated in December 2010 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and a minor in Spanish. At the end of January, just six months after I’d left Peru, I was, once again, Peru-bound. I had one suitcase, one carry-on, and big plans.

After obtaining a Teaching English as a Foreign Language certificate, I began teaching English to Peruvians at a language institute here in Cusco. After nine months of that, I am now the Academic Director at that same institute. With 1,200 English students, 50 Spanish students, and a lot of volunteers, there’s no doubt I work a lot…but, I work in Cusco, Peru.

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Overview of Cusco

How many people can say that they walk past the Coliseum to get groceries, that the Great Pyramids are visible from their bedroom window, or that they run past the Taj Mahal? I’m one of those people. I work across the street from Qorikancha, the most important temple in the Inca Empire, and walk past massively, impressive stone walls built in the 13th century everyday.

I’m still that good ol’ Kansas girl who believes there’s no place like home. But Cusco – just ask anyone who’s ever been here – there’s no place like it.

-Kezia Huseman

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Bee pollenating flower at Qorikancha.
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