Celebrated throughout Latin America as a result of the combination between indigenous beliefs and Catholic religion, the Day of the Dead (DĂa de los Muertos) takes place on November 2 around the continent.
In Ecuador the holiday is interpreted as a day to â€ścatch upâ€ť with the ones who are no longer with us but have a life in a different world. People pack lunches of traditional food, flowers and offerings and head for the cemeteries where they spend the day as a family talking, eating and performing routine maintenance on the grave site.
The staple food of the season is the famous colada morada, a thick purple drink, and guaguas de pan, sweet bread in the shape of dolls. Weeks before the holiday, supermarkets and bakeries begin selling the ingredients and store-made versions of the drink and breads. Colada morada is made out of black corn flour, blackberries, cinnamon, and pineapple, among other ingredients that are cooked together and served hot or cold with the sweet bread. To some people, the reddish-purple drink symbolizes blood, which in turn symbolizes life of the ones who have moved on from this existence.
There are as many versions of colada morada and guaguas de pan recipes as there are households, because whether a family visits their long-time gone relatives at cemeteries or not, the great majority of Ecuadorians will taste their version of the traditional food. The tradition of spending the day at cemeteries has declined in urban areas of Ecuador. However, once you leave the city behind it is easy to find entire communities mingling at the local cemetery for the occasion.
It is probably best to catch this holiday in the southern provinces of the Sierra, since November 3 marks the Independence of Cuenca and colorful festivities of the two consecutive holidays can be enjoyed in the area.
Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Ecuador: Fiesta de la Mama Negra, Holidays and Fiestas, Good Friday, Ceremonia de ReseĂ±a o VĂsperas, Fiestas de Quito, Carnaval and New Year's Eve.