Freedom of religion is a fundamental right in Peru’s culture, although Catholicism is the main religion, another legacy of the Spanish. Religious festivals have strong Spanish influence, but they are also an example of how different beliefs and religions of Peru’s pre-Hispanic cultures coexist.
Festivals: The coming together of different creeds, customs and experiences have created close to 3,000 annual popular festivals in Peru, including patron saint feasts, processions, carnivals and rituals, encompassing the expression of belief in God, respect for nature and the celebration of freedom. Peruvian festivals have a mystical side to them; most of them are the result of a fusion between Catholicism and pre-Hispanic religious traditions. Repaying the earth is part of the main celebrations in all regions, and is about rewarding and recognising the Pachamama (Mother Earth) for her endless generosity.
Gastronomy: Peruvian cuisine is another expression of a national identity that embraces multiple cultures co-existing in one territory; a unifying element in Peru that can be seen everywhere.
Peruvians have become experts at experimenting with new flavours, harmonising aromas and discovering new ways of cooking. The diversity of Peru’s agricultural production, microclimates, geography, multiple cultures and the genius of its chefs have enriched the culinary nature of Peru to the point where it is now recognised as one of the finest expressions of the global cuisine.
Mistura is the main gastronomic fair in Peru. It is held every year in Lima, bringing together the leading chefs and restaurants of Peru. The fair has been named the Gastronomic Capital of America and is one of the main events on international tourism itineraries in the region.
Handicrafts: Ancient Peruvians were outstanding handicraft artisans with highly developed technical skills. Pre-Hispanic Peruvian art has been dated back to ancient times through the discovery of weaving, gourds, wood, stone, gold, silver, pottery and even mud, which were used for day-to-day living. This ancestral heritage is still seen today in the coastal, mountain and jungle towns, in a variety of high-quality woven items. Silver filigree, carved gourds, Ayacuchan altars, Huamanga stone and wood carvings, Chulucanas pottery and Monsefú ponchos, among others, are highly valued around the world.
Music and Dances: Since pre-Hispanic times, music and dance has always played an important role in Peruvian society. Ancient Peruvians used sea shells, reeds and even animal bones to produce sounds. It is said that the Peruvians of the Nazca culture were the most important pre-Hispanic musicians on the continent. Panpipes or zampoñas, terracotta trumpets and pututos were some of the most important musical instruments in ancient Peru. The music explored themes of religion, war and profanity.
Another result of its many cultures, Peru today has a rich and varied folklore and a wide diversity of both music and dancing, that combine indigenous genres and spirit with Hispanic influence, as well as modern styles that have adapted to the changes and tastes of society’s larger social groups.