Christmas in Ecuador: Christmas Eve
Churches hold Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, but many people prefer to spend the evening at home with loved ones. Ecuadorian folklore asserts that Jesus was born at the stroke of midnight, and many people choose to spend this special hour at home with family (see also Misa de Gallo). Those assembled at home count down the last moments before midnight, and, on the stroke of twelve, exchange hugs with all present. In the past families sat down to a large meal just after midnight (see also réveillon). Nowadays, however, many dine some time before midnight. A traditional Christmas dinner might offer roast chicken, stuffed turkey, or roast pork. Pristiños, or molasses pastries, usually complete the meal. Many also serve canelazo, a sweet hot beverage made by heating water, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and liquor together. Traditionally, Ecuadorians open their Christmas gifts after dinner on Christmas Eve.
Ecuador’s most spectacular parade, the Pase del Niño Viajero, takes place in the city of Cuenca on the morning of December 24. Participants ride in cars, trucks, or on donkeys, each decorated with emblems of abundance. These emblems range from paper money to bunches of fruit to bottles of liquor and roasted meats. Bands of folk musicians as well as biblically costumed children round out the procession.