The Day of the Dead in Ecuador: Looking Back On Those We've Lost

Throughout history and cultures, there has been much to say about life after death and what it means to the people of a nation. Collectively, these beliefs sometimes even coalesce into a specific day that revolves around a particular celebration. In the case of Ecuador, Day of the Dead in Ecuador (sometimes also known as Day of the Deceased or All Souls’ Day) is celebrated on 2 November.

How is Day of the Dead in Ecuador Celebrated?

Nothing says Day of the Dead in Ecuador more than guaguas de pan (bread) and colada morada (a thick and fruity beverage). These two items are probably the most apparent, culinary feature of Day of the Dead in Ecuador (click here to check out our blog on the these two traditional foods); typically sold up to a month in advance of the Day itself and sometimes even for weeks after, too.

The Day of the Dead in Ecuador is a national holiday that is observed throughout the whole country of Ecuador, allowing individuals to use this day to pay their respects to those that have passed away. Religiously, it also coincides with All Souls’ Day, an overlap that helps to perpetuate the historical Latin-American tendency of merging and hybridizing previous traditions or indigenous customs with catholic ones. Traditions practiced during the Day of the Dead in Ecuador consist of vigils or visits to cemeteries on behalf of the family and/or friends of the deceased, these of which brings gifts such as flowers and food with them.
day of the dead in ecuador

Photo by: Warren Talbot

In addition to giving people the time to commemorate their ancestors and the deceased, the holiday for families often serves as the ideal time to sit down and introduce the concept of death to the young ones. This helps to reveal to them that it’s a natural part of life and how society, as a whole, participates in commemorating those that are gone while simultaneously celebrating the gift of life.

The Bigger Picture: Day of the Dead in Ecuador

Ecuador is a relatively big country, and as a result, it’s no surprise that different regions of Ecuador have their own, individual styles of celebrating Day of the Dead in Ecuador. Throughout the Highlands and the Amazon regions, for example, different indigenous groups give particular tweaks to the way they commemorate their dead.
And despite the passage of time and the onset of globalization, Day of the Dead is still celebrated in Ecuador with as much emotion and interest as ever. In fact, celebrations from North America that involve dressing up for Halloween have found their complimentary place beside Day of the Dead in Ecuador. The holiday remains as ubiquitous as ever, thanks in large part to the seasonal pastries and beverages that are made and sold during this time.

pastries day of the dead in ecuador

Photo by: A.Davey

Should you be inclined to observe the Day of the Dead in Ecuador while sampling the sweet and delicious breads and beverages that accompany the day, make sure to make Casa Gangotena your home away from home. The hotel itself is situated right in the heart of Downtown Quito – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and journey through time and a plethora of traditions. So what are you waiting for? Visit Ecuador today!

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With parents that worked for the U.S. Foreign Service up until he graduated from high school, Chris was raised to have the heart of a nomad throughout his life. He has resided in Honduras, Guatemala, Colombia, Panama and Ecuador throughout his years, and just recently spent the past four up in Canada finishing his Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy & English at the University of British Columbia.

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