In Andean Culture

Why we celebrate the solstice

The winter solstice welcomes the New Year in the Andean Culture. This special day marks the return of the sun, which is referred to as Inti Raymi. It is the shortest day of the year yet it brings along with it the promise of longer days ahead along with the approaching planting and harvest season. The solstice is celebrated on June 21st (summer) and December 21st (winter). The solstice occurs when the sun is the farthest from the tilting planet’s celestial equator. In the Andes, the Quechua people have for centuries been guided by the solstice to find out when to plant their potatoes. This ancient wisdom is based on the close relationship the people have with Pachamama.

The Ñawpa Ñan project has, for more than a decade, brought together communities in the high Andes to celebrate the New Year through dance, song and reciprocity. This year, the Taquileños on the beautiful island of Taquile, Lake Titicaca, hosted the solstice. Together with communities from Bolivia, the jungle of Pucallpa, Amaru in the Andes and our Pisac community, we came together for the coldest night of the year to light the fire of our hearts, feet and voices in order to bring warmth to Pachamama all night until the sun rose. It was a special time of sharing, celebrating our culture and giving thanks to Pachamama.

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