Thursday, April 2, 2015

Semana Santa en Ecuador = Holy Week in Ecuador

As you may know, it is Holy Week!  Christians around the world celebrate holy week beginning with Palm Sunday and all throughout the week leading up to Easter.  Here in Ecuador, traditions are similar to what a Christian in the U.S. may experience.  Many people attend extra daily masses, especially on Holy Thursday and a special service on Good Friday.

What's different about the celebration of Holy Week in Ecuador is the importance given to these days.  Generally, large community wide activities are planned, and many people participate in these gatherings.  It is a time for church communities to reflect and pray together.  One common tradition across many communities is the acting out of the Stations of the Cross.  As is common in many churches around the world, many faithful participate in the stations of the cross weekly throughout Lent.  In Ecuador, communities come together to act out the stations of the crosses, going from house to house or various locations for each station.  Pictured (above & below) are youth from a local youth group acting out the stations of the cross a few years ago.  Processions take over city streets and even those who might not regularly attend mass take some time out of the day to participate in these events.

Holy Week & the Easter season in Ecuador is also characterized by certain foods, traditionally only served at this time of year.  One such food is Fanesca (pictured below), a pumpkin based soup with various beans, grains and codfish or "bacalao".  It sometimes also contains plantains, eggs and other seasonings.  Many varieties specifically contain 12 different kinds of beans or grains to represent the 12 disciples.  Other traditional Easter foods included arroz con leche, humitas (prepared similarly to tamales), colada de maĆ­z, and mashed potatoes.

Since Ecuador is predominantly Catholic, most of the country shuts down to take part.  Holy Week in Ecuador is truly something special and very powerful to experience.

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