July 28 marks Peru’s Independence Day also known as Las Fiestas Patrias. To celebrate this day, I am honored to share with you a lovely essay from my friend, and author Mariana Llanos. It’s a short essay on her love for Peru.
You will also find some quick historical facts, and activities to do with your kids for Peru’s Independence Day.
Peru in the Heart by Mariana Llanos
Not long ago, an acquaintance who doesn’t have any ties to other cultures besides the United States told me how he didn’t mind people migrating to this country for a better life. However, he truly didn’t like these people celebrating their culture.
“They’re in America.” he said, “They should celebrate what Americans celebrate.”
Imagine my face as he said this to a Peruvian immigrant who proudly celebrates her traditions and culture. The conversation could have turned sour; instead, I chose to understand his point of view and explain mine.
“The fact that we celebrate our traditions doesn’t mean that we don’t love the United States or its culture. It just means that we want to keep our cultural identity alive. We’re merely adding another ingredient to the melting pot. Celebrating keeps us connected with the world we left behind, and helps us bear with this constant adaptation process. I imagine if you lived abroad, no matter how much you loved your new country, you would be the first in line to celebrate 4th of July.”
“Well, that’s true.” he said cocking his head, but we quickly changed subjects. I only hope that some of what I said had an impact in him.
In spite of my acquaintance, this July 28th, as Peruvians around the world commemorate the anniversary of our independence from Spain, I’m planning on celebrating with my friends as I do every year. We’ll cook our food, we’ll listen to some “música criolla”, and just rejoice in the fact that are lucky to had been born in a country with such richness of culture, history, and traditions. We’ll cherish our red and white flag, while we’ll remain grateful to the land that fosters us and allows us to be free to embrace our cultural identity.
Historical Facts about Perú:
- One of the most important civilizations of the American continent developed in Perú: The Inca Empire. It extended from the south of what is now known as Colombia through Ecuador, Perú, Bolivia, Chile and the north of Argentina. It was called TAHUANTINSUYO. The capital of the Tahuantinsuyo was the city of Qosqo, or Cusco, now in Perú. One of the most impressive remains of the Inca Empire is located in Cusco. Machu Picchu attracts tourists from all around the world who rejoice in the mysticism of its history.
- The story of Perú doesn’t start with the Incas. Prior to the Inca expansion, an array of cultures lived in what is now the Peruvian territory, including Nazca, Moche, Tiahuanaco, Wari, Recuay, Chimu among others. These cultures were absorbed by the dominant warrior spirit of the Quechuas, giving origin to the Inca Empire founded by Manco Capac, the first Inca.
- The Inca Empire was conquered and invaded by Spanish conquistadores around 1532, when they captured Inca Atahualpa. The Spanish brought horses, swords, guns, and diseases the natives had never known.
- The Spanish conquistadores, led by Francisco Pizarro chose the valley of Lima (called Rimaq at that moment) for the capital of the Spanish Viceroyalty. The city of Lima was founded by Pizarro on January 18th, 1535. It became the capital of Perú after the War of Independence.
- In the late 1700’s, Tupac Amaru an indigenous leader, descendant of one of the Incas, led a rebellion that shook the core of the Spanish Viceroyalty. Tupac Amaru was not successful, and eventually him and his followers were decimated, but his rebellion left open an important window for future independence movements.
- On July 28th, 1821, José de San Martín, an Argentinian general and prime leader of the independence movement in South America, declared the Independence of Perú (after declaring the Independence of Chile and Argentina). His words were: “From this moment Perú is free and independent by the general will of its people and by the justice of its cause defended by God. Long live our Land! Long live our Freedom! Long live our Independence!”
- After several wars led by valiant Peruvians and their allies, Perú was finally free from the almost 300 years of Spanish occupation. A new Republic was born, one as diverse, rich, and culturally colorful as the flag of the Tahuantinsuyo.
Mariana Llanos is a Peruvian writer who has published several children’s books in English and in Spanish. She studied acting and has worked as a preschool music and art teacher for the past years. She advocates for literacy and the inclusion of multicultural characters in children’s literature. Mariana visits schools around the world through virtual technology.
Books about Peru (aff.links)
Kids activities and resources: