Fiesta de Cuasimodo in Chile
The Fiesta de Cuasimodo, which is held in Chile, has absolutely nothing to do with a hunchback in a bell tower or a beautiful gypsy girl being rescued from her circumstances. The name of the festival might be a little deceiving, but it is a religious festival in Chile that is held annually on the first Sunday after Easter Sunday. It has its roots deeply imbedded in the colorful history of Chile, and even though it originates from a once needed service performed to aid the church, it slowly evolved to become a part of tradition and culture.
This year, the Fiesta de Cuasimodo will take place on the 30th of March 2008, and all the participants will once again play their parts perfectly. Those taking part will use the opportunity to show off their extraordinary equestrian skills and the breathtaking splendor of their horses. As the precession of horses and talented horsemen fill the streets of Chile, with pedestrians cheering by their side, the picture of age old tradition comes to life.
In ancient times, the priest would usually go out on the Sunday following Easter to visit the sickly and disabled and to pray to those who were close to death. These visits would often take the priest into the poor and struggling communities. After the priest was robbed and assaulted by the criminal elements of these areas, the knights on horses started to accompany the priest to protect him and clear the way. Although the priest does not face these imminent risks anymore, it has become tradition.
Huasos horses and traditionally clad riders, dressed like the knights of the time, take to the streets each year, with a group of pedestrians (originally they were dressed in white with their faces covered) and cuasimodistas. The procession begins after the morning mass and is known as the Correr a Cristo, meaning “Running to Christ”. The accompanying protectors on the ground can be heard shouting “Viva Cristo Rey” at intervals, translated to “Long Live Christ the King”.
Over the years, it has become an accepted custom to allow decorated bicycles and carts to join the festival, giving those who do not own a horse the opportunity to be a part of this spectacular religious tradition.