Día de la Canción Criolla: A Celebration of Music and Dance in Peru

Día de la Canción Criolla

Before coming to Peru a few months ago, I had always associated October 31st with Halloween, candy, and spooky costumes.  However, I recently found out that while children in the United States and other countries are trick-or-treating and dressing up in costumes to celebrate Halloween, many Peruvians are partaking in a different, yet equally as popular holiday known as “El Día de la Canción Criolla.”  Halloween, like other occidental holidays, is also celebrated and popular here in Peru, especially with young children, but it lacks the Peruvian tradition and history associated with the alternative.  I now find myself with the dilemma of choosing which holiday celebration to partake in!


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Celebrating the Day of Criolla Music

Dating back to 1944 when then President Manuel Prado declared the holiday, October 31st has been known as “El Día de la Canción Criolla” or the Day of Criolla Music, and is a celebration of Peruvian music and associated folklore.  The term criolla has come to define the people and culture of the coastal regions of Peru, the distinct result of a myriad of influences including that of Spanish, African, and Andean traditions.  This mingling of tradition had an effect on various aspects of Peruvian culture, specifically on the music, songs, and dances.

Marinera Music and Identity

The most popular style of this celebrated “criolla” music is the Marinera, said to be the national dance of Peru, but others include the Peruvian Waltz, Tondero, Festejo, Polka, Zamacueca, and the Landó. Every October 31st, Peruvians join together at bars, parties, and peñas for “El Día de la Canción Criolla,” a celebration of their music and more importantly, their national identity.

Peña Night

Seeing that I have recently arrived here in Peru and have not had the opportunity to enjoy much live criolla music or go to a peña, I think Halloween, costumes, and candy can wait until next year.  This October 31st, I plan on celebrating my first Día de la Canción Criolla and hopefully listen to more music like this:

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