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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.