Thursday, April 17, 2014

Easter week, Semana Santa, in Ecuador

The Ecuadorian Easter is special; it is family time with the extended family of grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and sometimes grandgrandparents and cousins three-times-removed.

There are no Easter bunnies, eggs or chocolate involved, but it is time of deep reverence and remembrance.

The Easter time starts on Palm Sunday when most of the people in Ecuador (Ecuador being majorly Catholic country, about 95% of Ecuadorian are Catholic) to a mass to get their palm decorations, or ramos as they call them in Ecuador, blessed.
My Easter decoration with palm leaves, clavels and rosemary.
The decoration is then brought home and placed to somewhere where everyone can see it and it remains in the house during the whole Easter time.

This is to commemorate Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem and the people who celebrated Him there as the Messiah.

This is the start of the Semana Santa, or the Holy Week, as it is called in Ecuador.

Some Ecuadorians choose to take the whole week of to travel, participate in the religious feasts and spend time with their family.

There are different parades and processions throughout the week, usually after working hours.
Cucuruchos in a procession in Salinas, Santa Elena.
But since there are big Catholic schools and high-schools in Ecuador, these participate in the festivities also and the students come out to streets to celebrate the Semana Santa.

There are also other youth groups, church groups, restaurants, government entities and neighborhood societies that host different special events to commemorate the Easter time.

Holy Thursday is the day for “Via Crucis” in some of the towns in Ecuador, others celebrate this procession on Good Friday.

This is a parade to commemorate Jesus’ walk through Jerusalem, carrying His cross on His back.
People depicting Jesus' walk carrying his cross in Salinas, Ecuador.
Some people attend “La visita de las siete iglesias” or visit seven different churches in their towns during the Holy Thursday.

Good Friday is also the day of large colorful parades depicting Jesus’ last days.

Some carry large crosses or religious statues en route, others enact Romans whipping penitents.

The participants, called cucuruchos, in the parades are clothed in purple tunics with cone-shaped hoods.

In Quito the procession is in honor of Jésus de Gran Poder or Jesus Almighty.

There are different statues used in the procession to depict Jesus but the original one is hundreds of years old art piece of incalculable value.

It is normally on display at the Franciscan museum next to San Francisco Cathedral in Quito where you can visit it during weekdays.

In some towns the participants go through different houses where the faithful families have stations depicting parts of Jesus’ life.

On Friday the towns shut down and the churches open up.

Most of the businesses are closed and churches and the streets are full.
A statue of Virgin Mary carried in a procession in Salinas, Santa Elena.
In some churches the members have to stand in long queues outside to get the chance at joining one of the mass ceremonies that are performed throughout the day.

The Holy Saturday, or Sábado de la Gloria (Glory Saturday) is a national holiday and the people fill the street with the music filing the air.

The celebrations take over as the families and friends gather together to dance, listen to the music, and have fun together.

There are also special church masses where people can participate and meditate on the sacrifice made by Christ to die to pay for the sins of His followers.
Easter Ramos outside of the market here in Tena.
On Easter Sunday mornings the churches celebrate the traditional Easter masses to commemorate Christ’s rising from the death with huge numbers of attendants.

In Quito, capital of Ecuador, Easter week ends when all the chapel bells of old town (and there a quite few of them) are being rung simultaneously.



  1. This looks and sounds like a wonderful celebration! Happy Easter

    1. Than you, Robert! Happy Easter to you and your family also!

  2. Your Easter decoration is beautiful. I love that they carry the cross. It looks like a wonderful celebration.

    1. Thank you, Chasity. The Passover here is beautiful, interesting, strange and even a bit crazy sometimes, just like the life :) And I love every moment of it!

  3. Thank you for sharing a cultural piece that I wouldn't have been exposed to otherwise. I appreciate your work, and hope it closes our cultural gaps in misunderstanding.

  4. Thank you for sharing Ecuador with us! It's nice to see somewhere that I probably wouldn't have ever seen.

  5. Very nice celebration. :) Happy Easter!

  6. Thank you for sharing your Easter celebration, it's a beautiful day.

  7. There are some similarities in the celebration of holy week in Ecuador and in the Philippines.

  8. OH this leave me reminiscing. We used to go to Yucatan, Mexico for Easter and we used to go for processions and the whole Easter celebration. Lovely memories of the family which I miss at these times. Hopefully take my family there one day. Would love to visit Ecuador!

    1. I hope you will come to visit Ecuador, Emy! This is a beautiful country, and there must be many things very similar to Mexico. Just that every country has its own flavor.

  9. That is really neat that they a re enactment, very touching.

  10. Beautiful celebration, Happy Easter!! Thank you for sharing

  11. Looks like a really interesting celebration!

  12. That looks like a great celebration. Have fun!

  13. what decorations does Ecuador have in Easter?

    1. Just the palm leaves or ramos that you can see in the first and last picture. Besides that religious decoration, like Jesus on the cross, that people have year around in their homes.