The Christmas holidays is a magical time for us. It’s filled with so much joy and love. Because we often travel and live in different countries year after year, we have been fortunate enough to have spent Christmas in many parts of the world. This year, we spent Christmas in Ecuador. It’s a colorful, vibrant and joyful celebration, one that all the locals and visitors enjoy.
One of the down sides of spending Christmas overseas is that we tend to be away from our family and friends back home in Sydney, Australia. Nevertheless, Christmas has always been an amazing holiday and our 2015 Christmas experience did not disappoint. Living in Cuenca Ecuador, we spent our Christmas in the heart of the city and enjoyed the many festive events that were happening. Here’s a look into what we got up to for Christmas in 2015.
Christmas Eve in Ecuador
In the morning, we got up and did our usual workout routine. Since we were going to be out the whole day, we wanted to make sure that we maintained our morning workout. Once we completed our exercise for the day, we got dressed up and ready for our Christmas adventures. We packed water, treats for Buckwheat and snacks and made our way to the nearby bus stop.
We took a local bus (bus number 3) for $0.25cents and headed to the main city center of Cuenca. The bus takes about 15 minutes to get to the city. While we were on the bus, we could see a number of events happening around town, getting us super excited.
Upon arrival in the city, the streets were filled with people. Families, groups of friends and local vendors all took the streets in celebration of Christmas. The city was decorated with Christmas lights, nativity scenes and festive decor. You could feel the Christmas spirit. There were stalls setup along the streets selling all kinds of things including handicrafts, toys, Christmas decorations, food, flowers and more.
The main event for Christmas in Ecuador however, is the parade known as Pase del Niño parade or Passing of the Child. It’s the biggest parade event of the year. Pase del Niño parade runs from 10am up until about 5pm. A lot of the streets in the city center are closed off specifically for the parade. The parade not only is a celebration of Christmas, but a celebration of Ecuador culture and life. Though some of the floats in the Pase del Niño parade were a little strange and odd, having no relation to Christmas nor Ecuadorian culture.
We saw lots of children on horses dressed up as part of the nativity scene, which was super cute. There were also people dressed in traditional Ecuadorian clothing. Many of the floats incorporated tribal attire of the Indigenous people of Ecuador known as Paleo-Indians. Families also decorated their cars as floats and drove in the parade, giving away toys, food and candy to by standers. Dogs, sheep and llamas also joined in the Pase del Niño parade in super cute outfits.
After watching the parade for a few hours, we decided to take a walk around the city to see what else was happening. We saw donkeys and llamas dressed up ready to be photographed for a small fee. Buckwheat met for the first time a llama. There were also vendors selling masks in preparation of New Year’s eve.
A lot of the stores were open till late to accommodate the large number of people in the city. Though many of our favorite restaurants still closed at the usual time (at about 5pm), making it difficult to find decent dinner. Typically set meals cost $3.00USD but during the night, only the more expensive restaurants are open costing on average $10.00USD. Luckily we brought some food with us and grabbed some burgers before 5pm to have for dinner.
Towards the end of the day, we decided walk along the Tomebamba River, which is connected to the Amazon river. It’s a beautiful river that has been well kept, probably the cleanest river we’ve ever seen in a city in any country. There’s no litter and the water is crystal clear. Buckwheat enjoyed his 2 hour walk along the river.
We then headed back on the bus and arrived back at home by 10pm. Christmas eve in Ecuador was definitely a great experience overall. We were immersed in so much culture and enjoyed all the festivities that were happening in the city. The people of Ecuador are always so cheerful and friendly, but on Christmas eve they seemed even more happy. We particularly enjoyed being able to share the experience with Buckwheat.
Christmas day in Ecuador
Christmas day was a lot more relaxing compared to Christmas eve. A lot of the celebration for Christmas happens on Christmas Eve, with many families choosing to stay at home or spending their time with family and friends. We spent our day at home eating a home cooked meal by me. Since we had been out and came home late the night before, we decided to have a day in to catch up on some rest.
Spending Christmas in Ecuador was definitely a unique experience and vastly different from other countries we’ve had the pleasure of celebrating Christmas in. We particularly enjoyed the Pase del Niño parade and loved being around so many people. We really felt like we were part of the community, having only moved to Ecuador from November 2015. Merry Christmas from the three of us!