Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Los Negritos Festival - Huanuco Peru

Festival of the Negritos
December 24th - January 19th

This festival commemorates a historical fact: on Christmas Day 1648, a wealthy
Spanishman freed his black slaves, who celebrated dancing around the Nativity
scene. Today, this celebration features the Cofradias de los Negritos
(Brotherhood of the Slaves), who march through the streets dancing and showing
their colorful costumes until they reach the Nativity scene where they wait for
the arrival of the Baby Jesus.

And did they ever dance, from sun up until well after it had set. They would march up and down the streets of Huanuco beating their drums and occasionally stopping to dance. Certain homes and businesses elect to have them dance in their location which is supposed to bring a blessing upon it. Once they have done so they are served food and strong drink.

A comentary I received from a Christian brother living in Huanuco:
They are not celebrating the freedom for slaves anymore, whether that tradition is given as the excuse or not. Some Christians believe the celebration is harmless and it probably was when it first began. To an extent with certain groups in various locations it may be more or less harmless but in most cases these days, and with most of those who dance and participate, it is some level of two things. First, it is a drunken party. Second, it is a form of idolatrous worship.
 The customary dance usually begins at a Catholic church where a priest "blesses" the dancers with holy water. They are then accompanied by a shrine or image of the baby Jesus, Mary or a host of other saints to which they pray to as they stop at the numerous houses and businesses along their route.
 What I have uncomfortably noted is that the dances of the Negritos are sometimes quite diabolical looking and feeling. Every year as the three weeks of daily dancing go on the attitudes of people, the neighborhood dogs and even of some of the Christians seem to worsen. It is as if the demonic spirit begins to concentrate in the city, in response to having been ushered in.

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