Five traditional sayings from Chile’s largest indigenous group

The advice in these Mapuche proverbs highlights the importance of telling the truth and remaining positive in difficult circumstances.


As people throughout the southern hemisphere shivered through the shortest day of the year this week, Chile’s largest indigenous group, the Mapuche, celebrated their New Year holiday, known as We-tripantu.

Every year on the day of the winter solstice, the Mapuche people gather to mark the end of the harvest season and to welcome in the time for preparing the next year’s crop with a series of festivities in honor of the sun.

To mark the occasion, This is Chile is sharing five common expressions in Mapudungun, the native Mapuche language.

1. “Wüni femngei ta küyen; Kúyen ta tripantü.”
“Just as today dawns, so the rest of the month will follow; and just as the first month, so will be the rest of the year.”

This belief expresses the desire that the happiness of the first day of the new moon will continue throughout the month and year to come.

2. “Wif piwke mew düngun Witrantükunge mi weda piwke.”
“Speak with a true heart, holding back your evil passions.”

With this piece of advice, Mapuche parents encourage their children to speak directly and to always tell the truth.

3. “Witrange anay! Wünkey com pu che ñi duam.”
“Get up! The sun rises for everybody.”

This phrase is directed at people who have been struck down by tragedy. It aims to remind them that even the darkest nights are followed by a new dawn.

4. “Pichintu mongelíñ paniewllelaiaiñ.”
“As life is so short, shouldn’t we meet again?”

This expression asks why we don’t make more of an effort to spend time with the people whose company we most enjoy, seeing that our time on earth is so transient.

5. “Peumangen felepe.”
“I hope all that happens to you is as joyful as a dream.”

This phrase is shared between two people who are about to part after an intimate or profound conversation. It expresses one’s best wishes for the other person.