Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a festive holiday season ! Our first Christmas in Cuenca we were delighted by the popular Pase del Niño Viajero parade.
A tradition here for over 70 years. Cuenca is known throughout South America as an artesanal and cultural community, and this celebration certainly showcases that.
It is the highlight of the season in Cuenca.
Started with a formal ceremony in front of the Corazón de Jesús church the procession travels down Simon Bolivar to Parque Calderon.
We will feature photos of this colourful, fun celebration with an interesting mix of Catholic, indigenous, and eclectic traditions.
The parade of color, horses and vibrant music depicts the journey of Mary and Joseph to the town of Bethlehem.
Children dressed in colorful homemade costumes,
Mary & Joseph,
three Wise Men,
shepherds complete with sheep,
and angels celebrate baby Jesus.
Estimated to have over 50,000 participants, and half a million spectators, it was over 6 hours long ! Participants are provided refreshment and food at various points.
Spectators of all ages watch from the curb, doorways, parkbenches, balconies and rooftops.
Unlike a traditional parade, most are participating, and when the parade stops the pedestrians continue flowing, entering and exiting the procession at will.
Rhythmic music is provided by a variety of musicians, but interestingly we only heard one or two traditional Christmas carols.
The Andean Christmas foods are tamales, smoked pork, guinea pig, donuts, and drinks like chicha and mistelas. Chicha is a crude corn syrup beer popular in rural areas and served during the Pase del Niño parade. Mistela is made from beaten egg whites.
If you are considering traveling to Ecuador it would be worthwhile to plan around this major celebration in Cuenca.
Historically, over 500 years ago the Spanish introduced the Christmas celebration of Pase del Niño in which figures of the baby Jesus are carried through village streets.
The tradition is in the Andes as there was nothing similar on the coast.
Organizers claim Cuenca to have the largest celebration in Latin America.
Last Christmas we spent in Medellin, Columbia for Los Alumbrados.