Among the various peoples of South America, it’s estimated that over 75% of all its inhabitants are Roman Catholic and over half of the total population speaks Portugese, however, among the remaining 25% of Protestants, Hindus & Muslims, the culture is varied and incredibly strong all over the region. Below we take a look at some of the most interesting cultures and traditions that are at home in South America.
Music & dance have always been a big influence across the region and include a wide variety of styles from contemporary rock and pop to more popular folk and native genres such as the Brazilian dance music Samba, the Argentinian & Urugayan partner dance music Tango and the Columbian courtship dance style Cumbia. Other popular styles and genres include the Cuban Salsa, the Mexican Banda, the Spanish Bolero, the Mexican guitar music Ranchera and the Puerto Rican music Reggaeton inspired by the Afro-Caribbean Reggae.
Of course, the biggest cultural and traditional parts of the countries also include numerous events taking place all throughout the year. Below are some common favourites across the South American region.
The most famous of these events is the Carnaval which takes place on different dates in different countries. However, the strong colourful motif with feathers, beads and lights is nearly always present in each one.
In Argentina, the Murga takes place which incorporates a type of musical theatre strongly into each celebration, typically songs within the musical are designed to reflect the preceding year and thus by design are inherently satirical. In Bolivia, the Carnaval de Oruro is considered to be a religious festival more than two-thousand years old and is celebrated with the Llama llama or Diablada dance style and brings in over fifty dance troupes every year.
Of course the biggest one is the Carnival of Brazil which most frequently has its largest celebrations in Vitoria, Sao Paulo and Brazil’s capital, Rio de Janeiro. Each event features a precession of colourful floats and masquerades organized by a variety of samba schools and feature many cultural influences reflected in the parade including both those found natively in South America and in Africa.
Later on in the year, the Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia (The Grape Harvest Festival) is celebrated in Mendoza, Argentina. The festival celebrates the harvesting of the grapes and has a strong religious connection, asking for divine blessing on the fruit at the start of the festival. As it proceeds however, the event takes a turn and features the prettiest women of each area paraded on chariots through the streets of Mendoza dressed in colourful costumes and outfits.
Later on, men dressed in Gaucho style outfits, reminiscent of cowboys, join them on horseback and on foot as well as dancers representing provinces from all across the country. As the festival comes to an end the Acto Central takes place in the Frank Romero Day Green Theatre and showcases a flurry of lights and sounds while featuring over a hundred performers of varying styles and talents as well as a variety of traditional folklore music. The show closes off with a finale of the Reina Nacional de la Vendimia and a huge firework display.
Halfway through the year, the Inti Raymi, the most important Incan event, is celebrated in Mexico. Its name translates to Festival of the Sun and is a religious ceremony focusing around the god Inti. Once it was celebrated by the ancient Incan Empire, now long gone the ceremonies have been held every year since 1535, by the Spanish Conquistadors and the Catholic Church. The celebrations involve the woven Aya Huma mask, which the festival is famous for, as well as many other colourful costumes, delicious food and traditional music.
Since 1957 the Feria de las Flores (Festival of the Flowers), a Spanish festival taking place in Medellin, Columbia, has been held every year and is widely regarded as the world’s biggest flower display and floral-focused celebration. The festivities celebrate the end of slavery when, rather than flowers, salves carried men and women on their backs up steep hills. However the focus isn’t just about the end of slavery, it also features parades for automobiles and horses as well a beauty pageant and a range of concerts.
Full of so much tradition and filled to the brim with culture, South America is a beautiful land and has a range of positions available in many educational institutes all over the region. Why not check out SeekTeacher’s job postings for this region?