Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Día de los Difuntos "Day of the Dead"

There was no passing out candy or dressing up in costumes for Halloween this year in Ecuador.  Instead, we hung out in the cemetery and celebrated Día de los Difuntos (Day of the Dead), a national holiday where people have off from work to remember loved ones who have died. 

Rachel's family mausoleum where her grandfather is buried, and there are spots reserved for everyone else, including me - I think.  Or maybe that is only if I die while I am living here.

 For weeks leading up to this holiday, which is the same day as All Saint’s Day (November 2), the cemeteries were bustling with families beautifying the grave sites.  They weeded, painted, repaired any damage that had occurred over the past year, and made improvements that they had been saving up for like new tile work to the exterior.  
View of cemetery. 
An example of what most of the graves looked like.  Bodies or ashes are placed in the openings.

On the big day, the cemetery was packed.  Families gathered around grave sites to talk and eat and drink.  They brought chairs to post up next to their represented grave site or sat on the grave stone itself.  It was like an all-day tailgating party for the dead.  Ice cream vendors navigated through the crowded cemetery selling refreshing treats, and the street leading into the cemetery was lined with people selling varieties of food for the belly and flowers for the graves.

Pork was one of the foods sold outside of the cemetery. 
 On Día de los Difuntos it is customary to drink colada morada, a traditional drink made up of mora (berries), pineapple, strawberries, peaches, cinnamon, and a mixture of other fruits and herbs, and to eat guaguas, a donut like bread made in the shape of a little child with guava paste in the middle.  Not sure why either of these items are eaten or drank on this specific day, and amazingly no one that I asked knew either.

One of the many guaguas that we bought.  Yummy.

The day also gave our girls a chance to pay respects to their bisabuelo (great grandfather).

Anaiah and Eliana with their flowers and cards for their bisabuelo. 

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