Peru’s Takanakuy Festival

Peru’s Takanakuy Festival is simple. The townspeople of Chumbivilcas and Llique bottle up any resentment and problems towards eachother until Christmas Day, on which they fight it all out in a massive brawl. Sounds like Christmas in Peru is no different than Christmas at my mother-in-law’s.

A week of nonstop drinking culminates in a day of violent fisticuffs. As Vice’s Thomas Morton put it, “It’s like Yom Kippur, but bloodier”. The festival is held on Christmas week because it is a time of peace and resolution, and fighting is the rawest way to settle any dispute. So in a way, the festival breeds peace. Of course, everyone wants to be able to fight freely knowing there won’t be any backlashes or consequences, and it would be awkward to return to work after you just hail-mary’d your boss. For this reason, everyone wears ski masks with their own abstract designs (characteristic of Peru’s colorful culture) and some fighters even sport chickens on their head to show that they’re no chickenhead. The event isn’t as barbaric and unsophisticated as it sounds, all the fights start and end with a hug so as to maintain the love. If only our towns ran things this way, I know of a few people who’d be getting my Christmas “present”. They’d have to put the holiday ham to work healing some black eyes.