We Tripantu: Mapuche New Years


Just as in the United States and North America, South America was full people when Europeans first arrived. Across South America there were grand civilizations, cities and different groups of Native Americans living their lives for thousands of years. The culture and identity of these people are still very important to people in South America. South Americans have inherited very much from these earlier people in terms of language, culture and the land where they live. In Chile, the largest group of indigenous people is the Mapuche. The Mapuche managed to maintain a large population and much of their culture, as if they were never conquered by the Inca Empire (a large native american empire based in Peru) or the Spanish. Today there are over a million Mapuche living in Chile, many in their ancesteral homelands. 

What tradition did I learn about?:

We Tripantu is a celebration of the returning of the sun by the Mapuche (sometimes called the New Years). Traditionally, the Mapuche believe that  the new sun is born in winter and continues growing until summer. After that it begins to fade away. We Tripantu celebrates the rebirth of the sun to begin this process anew. We Tripantu is celebrated very differently across Chile, with the most traditional celebration being in the southern lake district where the majority of Mapuche live.