There are twelve annual holidays in Peru. Most of these holidays are national or religious commemorations which are held in Peru and in other Latin American countries, although many are celebrated across the world. During these holidays, there is a good chance that most government offices will be closed and other services will be restricted, so forewarned is forearmed. Here is a list of all the legal holidays and a few other details that you might find useful, especially if you are in the hunt for festivities around the country.
- January 1st – Año Nuevo (New Year’s Day): New Year’s Day is a widely celebrated holiday in Peru. During New Year’s Eve, cities like Lima tend to display colorful fireworks as Peruvians welcome the new year. Some people opt to spend this holiday at the beach, and others escape to cities like Cusco – where hotels and bars host big celebrations. Some New Year’s Day traditions include wearing yellow or buying yellow flowers for your home, as this is seen as a sign of good luck. Calling your friends and relatives to wish them a ‘Happy New Year’ is also a common practice in Peru.
- Jueves Santo (Maundy Thursday): Jueves Santo is the Christian holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter. For Catholics and other Christians, this religious holiday commemorates the foot washing and Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles, as described in the canonical gospels.
Viernes Santo (Good Friday): Along with Maundy Thursday, Good Friday is one of the most important religious commemorations in Peru. Most Catholics observing Good Friday don’t eat meat as a form of penance. Many people spend Holy Week at the beach with friends and family.
- May 1st – Día del Trabajo (International Workers’ Day): This international holiday is celebrated in honor of all workers. The history behind it comes from historical labor manifestations – especially the Haymarket Affair – a worker’s manifestation in Chicago that contributed to the creation of the eight hour working day.
- June 29th – Día de San Pedro y San Pablo (Feast of Saints Peter and Paul): This is a religious holiday in honor of the martyrdom in Rome of the apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul.
- July 28th – Independencia del Perú (Peru’s Independence Day): July 28th commemorates Peru’s liberation from Spain, which was lead by José de San Martín in 1821. Together with July 29th, these days are known as Las Fiestas Patrias, and are probably the most celebrated holidays in Peru. All houses and buildings are obliged to fly the Peruvian flag in the period surrounding these dates.
- July 29th – Día de las Fuerzas Armadas y la Policía del Perú (Peruvian Armed Forces and National Police Day): This holiday – also known as the commemoration of the establishment of the Republic of Peru – commemorates Peru’s Armed Forces and National Police. A Civic-Military Parade, which is witnessed by thousands of people, is hosted on this day as part of the Fiestas Patrias celebration.
- August 30th – Festividad de Santa Rosa de Lima (Saint Rose of Lima Festivity): This religious holiday commemorates the life of Saint Rose of Lima, the first person born in the Americas to be declared as a saint by the Catholic Church.
October 8th – Celebración del Combate de Angamos (Battle of Angamos Commemoration): On October 8th Peruvians commemorate the Battle of Angamos, which was a naval encounter of the War of the Pacific fought between the navies of Chile and Peru at Punta Angamos in 1879. Military and civic parades are held across Peru to honor the Peruvian Navy and Admiral Miguel Grau, who was killed in the battle.
- November 1st – Día de Todos los Santos (All Saint’s Day): On All Saint’s Day, countries with a Catholic tradition – like Peru – celebrate all the saints: known and unknown. It is a common tradition for Peruvians to remember and honor their deceased loved ones on this day. Many people visit the cemetery and bring flowers to the friends and family members that have passed away.
- December 8th – Día de la Inmaculada Concepción (Feast of the Immaculate Conception): On this international religious holiday, Catholics and other Christians commemorate the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary.
- December 25th – Navidad (Christmas): For most Peruvians, Christmas Day is a religious commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Many Catholics go to Midnight Mass (Misa de Gallo), or to other masses held during this day. Traditionally, people spend this day with their family, share a Christmas meal and exchange gifts.