Celebrating We Tripantu (Mapuche New Year)
I thought it was rather fitting that our last week falls when the Mapuche people celebrate their New Year after the winter solstice. It signifies the returning of the sun (as we get more and more daylight) and the start of a new cycle. Kind of fitting as Nick and I start a new “cycle” back in the U.S., right?
Jardin Infantil (Kindergarten)
We found out Tuesday that the Chol Chol Foundation was invited to celebrate We Tripantu with a kindergarten class in Temuco on Thursday. Yasmin told us that she was going, and that Nick, Kaelig, and I could join. NIÑOS in traditional dress, my heart just about burst! We were told to bring something to share, so Nick and I picked up a queque (not to be confused with panqueques, or pancakes, which was what I originally thought Yasmin meant, ha!)
Thursday morning, we met at the museum store and made our way over to the kindergarten. We entered and it was what you would expect at any kindergarten in the world – lots of kids running around! But all of their families were there as well, and everyone was seated around tables sharing traditional Mapuche food of sopaipillas, tortillas (not the kind you would think, more like loaves of bread), and hard-boiled eggs, along with mate, of course! Also, these tables and chairs were kindergarten-sized, so it was quite a sight to see us sit in those (as we’re taller than the average Chilean, especially Nick).
I offered the mother and daughter next to me some queque, and they offered sopaipillas and mate. I had mate with lemon in it, which is maybe my new favorite preparation!
After, we headed out to the front of the building where they had a central tree and offerings set up. Beneath the tree were baskets of breads, vegetables, grains, and meats.
The teachers of the school started the ceremony after giving everyone a small branch from the tree. The main woman said prayers and chants in front of the tree, and we all shook the branches when prompted. After, they started passing around all of the food from the offering, and we took some and passed it on to the next person. After that, we walked around the tree while music was played with drums, horns, and bells.
We all returned to our places, and then the adorable spectacle of the niños took place. They were all dressed in similar traditional Mapuche garb as their parents, and they began their procession. One played the drum, another had bells, and they walked around the tree in circles. After, the boys rode wooden horses around the tree. They were so cute.
After this, the adults took turns dancing around the tree, starting with some men, then followed by the women.
Something that I thought was really neat is how welcoming everyone is in participating in the ceremony and activities. It was nice to share breakfast with complete strangers and have them welcome you to join in the processions. I know some cultures keep ceremonies very private, so I’m extremely grateful we got to celebrate this with them.
Señora Rosita’s We Tripantu Celebration
We visited Señora Rosita our very first week here, and it’s fitting the we visited her in our last week here.
Señora Rosita is a good friend of Juan Manuel’s, so she invited him (and us) to come join her at her home in Lautaro for her We Tripantu celebration. We were told to bring mate and something sweet. 🙂
We arrived and Señora Rosita had set up a small pole with the Mapuche flag with a similar food offering as the school set up below it. We said hello to everyone, and Señora Rosita was so happy we were there. She’s such a sweet woman, and it was another moment where I felt so welcomed. There were about 6 or 7 women dressed in traditional garb, and two men with mantas (or ponchos). We all faced the sun, and she began the ceremony with a similar chant and prayer over the offering. It was a much smaller gathering than the one from Thursday, which was nice.
After the prayer was done, we passed around the food and shared it. We then followed in a procession around the pole. Señora Rosita’s son danced around the pole (as we found out last time we saw her that he was chosen to be one of the five or six men that dance in ceremonies). We walked around the pole again and finished the ceremony.
A funny side note: there was one part where we kneel towards the ground, and Nick and I noticed a few earthworms near his feet. Then, as we stood up, we found what was probably 20 worms all around the ground. We felt bad as we all continued around in the procession, trying not to step on them, haha.
After, we headed to a community space down the block to have some food. No party is complete without sopaipillas, of course. There were more sopaipillas there than I had ever seen before! We all sat down and they passed around cups of chicken soup (consomé), cafe (made with toasted wheat), sopaipillas, hard-boiled eggs, and homemade salsa. We brought some queque here as well, so we enjoyed that after.
It was nice to relax and enjoy the food. We could speak much better than our first week, so we were able to have a few conversations with others (win!). One woman asked for our phone number so she could have a phone number of someone in the United States (a little strange, but sure!).
You can really tell how close everyone is in these small communities. It’s really nice to see, and something I’ll probably never experience (since we live in a big city). Everyone knows each other and everyone is invited to participate.
We made our way to head out, but Señora Rosita stopped us. “You must come over for lunch!” she said in Spanish. Nick, Juan Manuel, and I looked at each other. We were so full of sopaipillas and queque, we couldn’t eat anything else! We told her that we had to get back, but not before spending a little time visiting in her home with some navegado (my new favorite wine drink).
We were extremely grateful that 1. we were here during this special time and 2. that we got to experience a Mapuche ceremony not once, but twice! As we finish out our last few days at the Foundation, it was a nice way to close the chapter on our experience with this wonderful culture and our time here in Chile!