Today is Mother’s day and I would like to use this special day to focus on the Peruvian mother and her social role within a Peruvian community.

IMG_4279Let me begin by saying Mother’s day decorations have adorned store windows for the past two weeks. Outside of stores, you will find makeshift extensions on small family owned flower shops and vendors carrying enormous balloons on the sidewalks, or scooting between cars at traffic lights.

It came as no surprise to me. I know Peru well enough to suppose everything will be made into an event, but this holiday in particular got me to thinking… Is this just another spin on the Hallmark holiday, or does it run deeper than your average Mothers day card, or Instagram post?

While at the mall yesterday, I walked into a crowd of young mothers and toddlers, elderly women and their spouses. They were gathered outside of the food court, their attention was on a stage which was set with a red carpet covered with roses.

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Two women sat and spoke to those seated and gathered around the stage about what it means to be a mother, and the importance of loving and raising a child. They began by stating that motherhood has changed. Women now work while raising the family which has added a twist to everything. The host concluded her thought in saying it is has become much more difficult to manage a household and for this reason a mother is to make sure she is taking care of herself both emotionally and physically.

La madre es el pilar de la familia – si tu no les creces, menos ellos a si mismos les crecen. The mother is the pillar of the family – If you do not raise them, they will less raise themselves. 

In living here, I have developed a strong respect for Peruvian women. The Peruvian female is a marvelous being. She is strong, she is passionate, and unafraid. She takes care of herself, and is proud of the thing that she has made herself to be. She loves and she will put her heart into whatever she feels she should, and will make sure to succeed in it. Above all, she has style, rhythm, and values close relationships.

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Almuerzo at the house of Mariale’s grandmother

I could create an entire blog on women’s fashion in Peru, and have honestly considered it. Peruvian women are well manicured and take pride in their appearance. From painted nails, to high heels, to MAC makeup products. The effort put into going out and looking good is to be applauded. Whether its an almuerzo tranquilo, an outing for an alfajor I’ll explain these later and keke piece of cake, or a night at the club, the ladies here know how to do it up. They strut, they dance, and maintain such poise until 6am -after the club- over a hamburger and fries.

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Trujillo is home to one of the most traditional dances of Peru, The Marianera. If you have a chance, youtube it, its worth the 10min video. Marinera is a beautiful dance where a couple will take up an entire ballroom and dance as Anna and the King of Siam in The King and I. Peruvians call it a coqueteo a flirt where women use a handkerchief as a prop to lure the suitor as he chases her twirls across the dance floor. While the man may be the one to throw a hand to the lady, the female leads both the motion and attitude of the dance. It is an art which has been passed down through generations and is honored as an important part of Peruvian culture.

Daughters have a strong attachment to their mothers. When I lived with a family here two years ago, the two daughters of the family spent most of their time while at home helping their mother with chores. From sweeping to cooking to taking off her shoes as she sat down to rest, the girls treated her as a queen. It is a deep respect that I did not see growing up and wish I could go back and learn to treat my mother with the same grace and honor as I have been exposed to here.

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I believe there is something to be said about a woman who knows what she wants, and works to get it. In this case, of course, it is a family. I am reminded of the mother from My-Big-Fat-Greek-Wedding telling her daughter:

‘The man may be the head, but the woman is the neck, and she can turn the head any way she wants”

There is power to womanhood that runs deep within all social environments, whether at work, out with friends, or home with the kids. I look up to the Peruvian female, and boy do they know how to make a man’s head turn.

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