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Takanakuy is a fighting ceremony with roots in the Andes's pre–Spanish, pre–Incan history.
March 12, 2012, 4:00am

Christmas festivities vary widely around the world and are widely a steaming crock of boring shit. Oh, Swedish girls wear a crown of candles the night before Chistmas? Please tell me more about this scintillating national cust-snzzzZZZZZZZZZ.

In the Peruvian Andes, folks know how to celebrate the season right. What they do is, they put on a colorful ski mask, dress up like Mad Max mountain bikers, tie a dead eagle to their heads, and get drunk and dance for about a week straight. Then, come Christmas morning, they all gather together in the middle of town and beat the baby bejesus out of each other. Now we're talking, right?

The festival is called Takanakuy, and it's equal parts sporting event, indigenous display of hypermasculine defiance in the face of all the lily-white metropolitan sissies in Lima, and makeshift judicial system. The province of Chumbivilcas, where Takanakuy takes place, has about three cops total and is a stomach-wrecking 10-hour drive through the mountains to the nearest courthouse. So if you've got a beef with a neighbor or someone's taken your girl or your sheep, you don't go crying about it to some judge. You bury it away until Christmas, then get yourself all beered up and exact some Andean justice with your fists and feet. Guys, girls, little kids, old drunk men in high-waisted pants; everybody in town fights at Takanakuy.

This year we decided to forego the annual family snooze fest and head into the mountains of Peru to test our mettle against some of the hardiest people from one of the harshest environments in the Americas. We hope you like it, since it broke our mothers' hearts.

Read more: Christmas in the Andes

Takanakuy photos by Lele Saveri