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Indigenous New Year

Temuco, Chile


Indigenous New Year
The indigenous peoples of Chile – the Aymara, Quechua, Rapa Nui and Mapuche nations – follow their own ancestral calendar. For them the New Year begins with the winter solstice on the night of June 24. The harvest has ended and the earth must rest, prepare herself for the sowing of crops, and renew her fertility. It is a new cycle of life, and the indigenous cultures express their gratitude to Nature. The New Year festival of the Mapuche Indians is the best known. It is called We Tripantu, meaning “the sun’s new turn” or “the return of the sun.” It is celebrated in the rural regions of the south, in the city of Temuco in the main square, and in Santiago on the hill of Santa Lucía (Huelén).
The celebration coincides with the winter solstice as Chile’s largest indigenous group comes together to bid farewell to the harvest season and usher in the sowing season by honouring the sun.
24 th night, families got together to feast on traditional Mapuche dishes like sopaipilla, a fried bread, muday, a fermented corn drink, and catuto, a bread made of ground grains, oil and salt.
In addition to meaning “new year,” We-tripantu also means “sunrise of the new sun” and at sunrise on Friday, Mapuche will bathe in the frigid waters of Chile’s rivers in order to purify their bodies and souls for the New Year.
Immediately following the bath, families typically participate in individual and group prayers before returning to their homes to play music, games and dance.
Together, they celebrate their coexistence with the sun, the land, nature and the seasons as the natural cycle starts over.

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