Excited for the special experience of spending El Navidad abroad? What exactly is Christmas in Ecuador like and how do Ecuadorians typically celebrate the holiday? Well, one big Christmas tradition in Ecuador is turkey! That’s right, you won’t find turkey around any other time of year, so head to the market and get your orders in. Here are a few more Christmas traditions around Cuenca and Ecuador:
“La Novena” – December 15th to the 24th
Starting December 15, Ecuadorians gather in their houses or with their church congregations to sing carols. They also go around neighborhoods to pray and sing; poems are dedicated to the coming of baby Jesus, incense is lit, and chocolate cookies are eaten. In Cuenca, ‘La Novena’ will begin at the Convent of Carmen de la Asunción (Calle Sucre y Padre Aguirre) at 5:00pm. There will be daily masses and carol singing until the 24th.
“El Pase del Niño Viajero”
This is a Christmas pageant and parade, and Cuenca boasts the biggest in Ecuador. The tradition begins in early December, as a replica of the famous ‘Child Traveler’ starts its weekly travels to different parishes around Cuenca. “El Pase del Niño Viajero” culminates on December 24, with celebrations and a procession that starts in the morning and lasts all day. The nuns of the monastery that guard the original ‘El Niño Viajero’ are also responsible for designing costumes to be worn during the nine days of “La Novena”, saving the most elegant costumes for the big celebrations on the last day, Christmas Eve.
Christmas Eve Dinner
On the 24th of December, Ecuadorian families get together to feast. It is traditional to eat stuffed turkey or chicken with various sauces, fruits, salads and rice with cheese or corn, usually accompanied by wine. Gifts for children usually are placed at the foot of the bed to to open then they wake up the next day.
“La Misa del Gallo” - Midnight Mass
At midnight on the 24th, (or, rather the 25th) many Cuencanos gather for Midnight Mass in one of the city’s many beautiful churches. These masses are the busiest of the year and generally fill up — it isn’t unusual to see people standing all the way out the back doors.
Giving to the Poor at Christmas
Ecuadorian families love to help their poorer neighbors, and do so by giving food, toys, hundreds of bags of candy, and clothing.
Have any info regarding Christmas in Ecuador, gringo meet-ups or charity events for Christmas in Cuenca? Comment below or contact us!