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La Paz, Bolivia

Alasitas Festival

During this Bolivian festival/fair you can wish for wealth, success, love, and more by buying a miniature version of your desire. 

Every year on January 24th the Alasitas festival in La Paz, Bolivia begins and people come out in droves to pick up little idols that they hope will act as magnets for their (often very specific) wishes for the next year.  

At this colorful street fair you can buy miniatures of every kind, and the tradition holds that if there is something you truly desire in the upcoming year, the sure-fire way to ensure it comes your way is to buy a tiny version of it at the Alasitas market at noon on January 24. Those wishing for domestic wealth can pick up miniature farm animals, tools, and food products. Maybe a new vehicles is your desire; how about a tiny truck, car, or bus? Just want some money? There are lots of doll-sized banknotes, in Bolivian currency or US dollars of course. You could wish for travel (miniature passports, plane tickets, suitcases), real estate or furnishings (miniature houses, property deeds, chairs, pots and pans), love or marriage (miniature marriage licenses, bridal dresses, tuxedos), or even a new maid (miniature domestic servant). Your ambition and imagination seem to be the only limit on the things you can find at the festival. 

The deity that presides over Alasitas is Ekeko, the smiling god of plenty, wearing an traditional chullo and weighed down with riches, and usually depicted smoking a cigarette.

The Alasitas market goes on all month, and most paceños make it a point to go and purchase some wished-for items, even if they don’t make it there at the crucial 12 noon magic hour; it’s fun to simply to browse among all the interesting items and eat street food.