Fiesta de Sumamao

Sumamao, Fiesta de

December 26
The Argentine ritual drama known as sumamao, which means "beautiful river," is named after the location in which it is traditionally performed—near the Rio Dulce. It used to take place in a deserted chapel near the river, but nowadays it is sponsored by a ranch owner, who sets up a small altar on his property.
On San Esteban's ( St. Stephen's) Day, December 26, an avenue of arcos, or arches—made from trees that have been stripped of their branches except for a tuft on top and tied together by cords hung with ichas (cakes in the form of puppets)—leads up to the altar. The drama begins at dawn with trumpets and fireworks, followed by a slow procession of men on horseback through the arches. The rest of the drama unfolds throughout the day, culminating in the demolition of the arcos and the eating of the ichas. A fiesta concludes the celebration.
The sumamao is primarily an agricultural ritual aimed at winning the favor of the gods by offering sacrifices and exorcizing evil spirits. Social dances—including the zamba, the gato, and the chacarera —have replaced the orgiastic behavior that followed the ritual in ancient times.
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DictFolkMyth-1984, p. 1086
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.