The music, couplets, dance, decorations and colors are already getting ready to celebrate the Carnival.
Carnival in Ecuador is one of the most important and popular festivities. On a 2-day holiday, people travel, play, share with other cultures and taste typical flavors.
People used to throw water, flour, aniline and foam for playing. However, over the years, many of these games have been transformed. Today, there are also colorful parades, dances, ancient rituals, festivals and fairs.
Here are some of the most outstanding Carnivals celebrations in Ecuador:
Known as the most important celebration of the city, the Guaranda Carnival is one of the most colorful and attractive celebrations in the country. It was declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of the nation on October 2002, for its cultural richness.
The highlights of this celebration are the «Festival de Jorgas y Coplas», the allegorical cars, the masquerades and people on colorful costumes that walk through the streets of the city throwing water and camari (corn powder) at the participants.
Traditional food during these festivities includes dishes such as fritada, potatoes with guinea pig, morcilla, chigüiles, pumpkin or fig sweets, chicha, tamales and of course, the brandy of the region called Blue Bird.
The history of this celebration has its origins in the festival that the Guarangas (a tribe belonging to the Chimbus nation) prepare each year in honor of their Cacique and its land. In the festivities, the participants dressed in animal skins, painted their faces, sang songs and drank chicha. With the arrival of the Spanish conquerors and the imposition of Catholicism, this tradition change and elements of both cultures remain.
In Ambato, the celebration has a different meaning from the rest of the country. The citizens organize each year a colorful and elegant festival known as the «Festival of Fruit and Flowers». A festival that shows the beauty of the city and, at the same time, encourages art and culture.
The celebration begins with the Catholic blessing of flowers, fruit and bread, tradition to give thanks of the abundance of these products in the region. In the ceremony, the church altar is decorated with religious figures made up of flowers, fruit and bread.
The festivities continue with activities such as the «Fellowship Parade» in which thousands of students participate with their peace bands and troupes. The «Night Watch» is a tour in which beautiful allegorical cars adorned with flowers and fruits are displayed. The Folklore Festival, gastronomic festivals, musicals and concerts are also organized.
The «Athens of Ecuador» have its own celebration called “Thursday of Comadres and Compadres”. This tradition began two weeks before Carnival (on Thursday), to strengthen the bonds of friendship and solidarity.
The compadres and comadres chosen receive as a gift a «guagua» (made of bread or sugar), wrapped in the traditional way (in the form of a tamale) on a tray with flower petals. Other gifts are sweets, eggs or even a chicken. The chosen ones, offered to the visitors a glass of mistela (aguardiente with macerated fruit) and recommended attending the Carnival festivities.
Currently, the «Thursday of compadres and comadres» is celebrated in Cuenca with a great party organized by the City Council, in which a popular public figure is chosen as the compadre or comadre of the Cuencan carnival, who acts as host of the festivities and promote the city.
The Carnival party in Ecuador is an opportunity to discover and reaffirm the cultural identity, today converted into one of the tourist strengths and winning a big spot in the minds and hearts of locals and strangers.