Easter is worldwide celebrated as religious festival. Especially in regions with high levels of Christianity the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus is an important part of culture. Every region and city in Ecuador has its own way to celebrate this holiday, but in general the traditional way can be found everywhere. This year Good Friday will take place on the 30th of March, with Easter taking place on the 1st of April. Make sure to try the delicious Fanesca, an Ecuadorian dish that is only prepared during this special holy week.
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What is Easter?
Easter is considered the most important Christian holiday, originally descending from 30 AD. During Easter the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is celebrated. Mary Magdalene had found Jesus his empty tomb, three days after his crucifixion on Good Friday. Good Friday signifies the end of 40 days of fasting during Lent. It will also be the first day that the church bells will ring again, as they have been silent during lent. Many people call this week the holy week, as it includes Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.
When is Easter?
Easter is not set on a fixed date, but it’s determined on a calendar based on the moon phase and time of the solar year. Therefore, it’s exact date differs from year to year. This year it will take place on the 1st of April, but next year on 21st of April. It’s always on a Sunday.
Why the name Easter?
The name Easter comes from ‘Ostara’ or ‘Eotre’, the goddess of fertility. The direction ‘east’ and the word female hormone Oestrogen also derives from her. The hare was sacred to Ostara and over many years the tradition of the Easter Bunny was born.
Easter in Ecuador
You will probably not find as much chocolate bunnies and eggs and in Europe or in America. Instead, here on Good Friday, festivities start with a colourful parade illustrating Jesus’ last days.
Thousands of people gather in front of the wooden doors at the Church of San Francisco. Some people carry large wooden crosses or religious statues, and everyone is equipped with purple tunics with cone-shaped hoods. The cones are a symbol for humility while the purple colour represents penitence.
Most stores close, and the churches are open. On Saturday, the people fill the street and there is music and celebration everywhere.
During this week, a traditional rich soup is served, which is called Fanesca. Many people are looking forward to this tasty dish, made of a lot of different ingredients. This dish is found almost everywhere, especially on Friday.
The Ingredients can include twelve different kinds of beans and grains, milk, cod, boiled eggs, fried plantains, avocado, cheese, rice, garlic, peas, corn and much more. The recipes are different per region and family, as often the recipe has been passed on for many generations.Each type of bean should be prepared separately and making homemade fanesca can take many hours. In Quito, you will often find small empanadas as a side dish.
There is an annual competition amongst the restaurants in Quito, with over 500 participants. The goal is to find the place that serves the best fanesca. According to many people however, the best fanesca is not for sale. It is grandmother’s recipe.
In the unlikely case that you still have hunger after the fanesca, you should try some typical Ecuadorian postres (deserts).Most popular during this week are Arroz con leche, milk with rice and cinnamon or higos con queso, sweet figs with cheese. These delicacies will leave you longing for more.
What to do during the holy week in Ecuador?
During the holy week and Easter in Ecuador, many Ecuadorians will take days off to visit family, friends and attend the religious festivities.
Would you rather like to experience the religious activities and atmosphere? Then cities like Quito, Cuenca or Guayaquil are good options. If you would rather avoid the crowds, it might be an idea to visit the Amazon rainforest or spend your days at the Cotopaxi volcano.0