Yellow knickers and firewords: New Year in Cusco

Cusqueňans take the idea of out with the old and in with the new to extremes.  Fed up with your wardrobe?  No problem. Now is the time to burn it all up and go out and buy a whole new set of clothes.  Fed up with a particular politician; something in the last year you would like to forget?  Dress up a doll to symbolize what you want to leave behind, and then ceremonially burn it in the street.  For a more private ceremony, a friend of mine writes down what she would like to leave behind and burns the paper.  On another paper are her hopes for the new year.  Keep the hopes paper in a safe place, and maybe they will come true

If you head down to the busy market of El Molino you will find stalls spilling out onto the roads outside selling heaps of yellow knickers. Why? Wearing yellow on the big night brings good luck.  If its love you are after, go for red; then there’s green for money and white for health.  You can also light candles in the color of your wishes.  .  In case you are wondering, yellow knickers can be worn under OR outside your clothes.  You can also team the underwear with huge comedy glasses and heaps of confetti (yellow of course).

Head out to the Plaza de Armas on December 31st and you will find the streets filled with people in all kinds of fancy dress, with yellow much in evidence.  Watch out though as the main square gets crowded fast near midnight.  The belief is that its luck to go around the square three times and if you want to travel in the new year,  don’t forget to take your suitcase with you for the circuit!

At midnight the fireworks are off, they are in the sky, on the ground.  Everywhere!  If you don’t want to take your chances in the square, settle in one of the balconies overlooking.  Or, better still, find a rooftop with views of the whole city.  You will see that it’s not just in the main square, every home in Cusco seemingly has its fireworks and they cover the entire city and up into the hills around.

Wherever you end up you are sure to go back to your bed in the morning tired, with a few more friends… and with lots of yellow confetti in your clothes.

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