The Corpus Christi festivity is done in June but the date can change. The “Cusquenian Corpus Christi” is the most important religion festivity in Cusco even though the date is always on a Thursday. The feast starts a day before with the traditional “entry”.
The festivity gets started with the entry of the saints to the main cathedral of the city, accompanied by butlers, devotees, bands of musicians and dances on Wednesday (the day before the Corpus Christi).
In the central day a lavish procession of fifteen images of saints is done, with images of virgins of equal number of the parishes of Cusco. The procession is led by the silver carriage that carries the custody.
After seven days (the eighth), the saints go out again in a procession to then go back to their origin places where they will stay the rest of the year.
When the Spaniard arrived in Cusco, they were surprised to learn that the God Sun children took in procession the Incas mummies. Then, wielding the Gospels, they decided to end the pagan festival forever. The solutions of the missionaries who accompanied the conquerors was very simple: replace the revered remains for images of the Virgin and the catholic saints. That is how the Corpus Christi was born in the ancient capital of the Tawantinsuyo, a catholic celebration that permeated Andean nuances.
This attained celebration takes place in the main square and it is complemented with clulinary customs, being the “Chiriuchu” the representative dish.
Today, the holiday is important in the ordinary population that lives in the jurisdiction of the different parishes of Cusco. The preparations begin with weeks and even months in advance for which there is a traditional organization commanded by Butler ("carguyoq") which is the person who accepts the charge, takes the responsibility and obligation to pay most of the costs of the festival which, among other, includes masses, new clothes for the Virgin Mary or the Saint of the parish , the contract with a band of musicians ("q'aperos") to accompany the procession, a typical orchestra for the celebration of the festival, food for the guests, aguardiente, chicha and beer, reminders, etc.
On Wednesday, a day before Corpus Christi, the "entrance" of the images coming in procession is made, accompanied by the priest, the neighbors, butlers that carry "demands" in their chests which are distinctive signs or banners sometimes silver with the image of the Virgin or saint, to refer to the Cathedral where the image will be deposited until the day following in that is the main procession. In this "entry" of Saints is celebrated a spectacular 'race' between San Sebastian and San Jerónimo trying to come first to the city's Cathedral. Early in the morning the image of St. Jerónimo departs from the District of the same name about 10 Km. of San Sebastián district to approx. 5 Km. away the image of the town is already on the track, and thus to the arrival of the other image begins a mad race for the Av. de la Cultura towards the Plaza de Armas.
On this day, many traders have placed their stands in the vicinity of the Plaza de Armas from typical meal for attendees to the "entry", where is served the traditional "Chiri Uchu" or "Cold chilli" that consists of small pieces of grilled Guinea pig, chicken, ch'arki, cau-cau, cheese, sausages, torrejas of cornmeal, corn roasted, qocha-yuya and rocoto. Other stands also serve chicarrón, anticuchos, etc., and of course beer and chicha. After the entry of the images to the Cathedral, the people will give rein to their culinary tastes and their thirst for alcohol.
The procession of Saints and virgins in the Plaza de Armas starts at midday, where thousands of people have gathered. The tradition has an established order for the procession since the time of the colony, in which here is the order of the images:
1. San Antonio from the parish of San Cristobal.
2. San Jeronimo from the parish of the San Jeronimo district.
3. San Cristobal from the parish of San Cristobal.
4. San Sebastian from the parish of the San Sebastian district.
5. Santa Barbara from the parish of the Poroy district.
6. Santa Ana from the parish of Santa Ana.
7. Santiago Apostol from the parish of Santiago.
8. San Blas from the parish San Blas.
9. San Pedro from the parish of San Pedro.
10. San Jose from the parish of Belen.
11. Virgen de la Natividad from the parish of Almudena.
12. Virgen de los Remedios from the Santa Catalina church.
13. Virgen Purificada from the parish of San Pedro.
14. Virgen de Belen from the parish of Belen.
15. Virgen de la Inmaculada Concepción also called "The beautiful" from the main Cathedral.
After the procession of images, these are stored inside the Cathedral where they will remain until the "eighth", i.e. up to eight days after Corpus Christi. The day of the "eighth" begins with another procession of the Blessed Sacrament followed by various saints and virgins who return to their origin parishes after the procession. In the parish of the image, in the effervescence of the party and in the midst of the excitement with music and alcohol, the commitment of the new butler or "carguyoq" will be made. The chosen person will have to pay the expenses of the Festival for next year.