The big difference between Christmas in Ecuador and Christmas in Northern Europe and the US is the absence of must-do-things.
Here on latitude zero, we mustn’t bake seven varieties for Christmas, have a Christmas tree, eat rib on Christmas Eve or see the silver boys sing Christmas songs. We must not have snow either.
The latter is important, since in Ecuador there are only peaks higher than 5000 meters who actually got snow. With a Northern man’s expectations of a white Christmas, it requires some restructuring. So how do we celebrate Christmas in Ecuador?
The shopping centers are of course the first ones to decorate for Christmas. They depend on the people’s purchasing power being stimulated in time. The obligatory Christmas tree is from the beginning of December in all department stores, public institutions and other places people congregate. As a rule the trees are made in real plastic, but may also be formed in other materials. And it doesn’t has to be green. As long as it has the conical shape it is recognizable and will be associated with Christmas. On our facebook page we have posted some pictures of Christmas trees we’ve seen on our way.
In the homes, there are people who decorate their plastic trees on Christmas Eve. But there are perhaps even more who make their own nativity scene. The Catholic religion is strong and so is the Christmas story of the child in Betlehem. The decoration of the baby Jesus in the stable together with Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the kings, and all the others is seen everywhere. There is also a strong element of competition in having the finest one. In Quito there is an exhibition in the Itchimbia park where different artists have created their interpretations. Sisters of the Carmelita the Order open their monastry crib with handmade shapes and decorations that the diligent sisters have made the last 300 years. The Pope has in his latest book written that the good old donkey could hardly have been present at the event in the stable. It’s probably other critical details in the Christmas story, but he could hardly receive more resentment than kicking the ass out of the stable.
When it comes to Christmas shopping, it is not so hectic. At least not until two days before Christmas. Then it explodes. As in even more “civilized” countries, people uses money that they not yet had earned. The use of credit expanses and January will be tight for many.
Christmas food is not particularly traditional, and they often eat turkey as on other festivals.
On Christmas Eve, the family business and the distribution of gifts take place as “normal”. A Christmas prayer where you thank the great Señor is also to be done. And sometimes Santa Claus come for a visit.
The eve must not be celebrated by all costs. So this year I will take the family to the “playa”. Then on Christmas eve I will sip my drink while watching the waves wash the beach
Merry Christmas everyone.