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The Galapagos Islands are part of the South American country of Ecuador. Traveling to the Galapagos usually involves a stopover either in the country’s capital, Quito, or in XX. This time of year, you might be tempted to stretch out your time on the mainland so you can experience some of Ecuador’s festive Christmas traditions. 

As Trip Savvy reports, “In Quito, as in the rest of Ecuador, Christmas festivities are a mix of religious, civic, and personal celebrations.”

Many of the things that are part of the holiday celebrations in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands have counterparts in our holiday celebrations in the U.S. If you drive around any city or town, you are likely to see a nativity scene or two. You’ll see the same thing in Quito – with a twist. 

“During the month of December, Pesebres, or nativity scenes, are erected in various locales. They are often quite elaborate, with traditional scenes of the manger, and figures clothed in local or Ecuadorian costumes. Sometimes, the figures in the pesebre are real men, women, and children performing the ancient story,” Trip Savvy says. 

Does your family get together for a festive meal over the Christmas holidays? Ecuadorian families come together, too. And they have their equivalent of what many of us refer to as Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.

“On Christmas Eve, families enjoy the Cena de Nochebuena, which traditionally includes stuffed turkey or chicken, grapes and raisins, salads, rice with cheese, local produce, and wine or chicha. At midnight, the Misa del Gallo, a long mass, attracts huge numbers and December 25 is a family day with gifts and visits.”

There are some things about holiday celebrations that seem to hold true no matter where you are on the globe, but then there are special attributes that make some celebrations unique. 

One of our favorite aspects of the holiday celebration in Ecuador is what happens after Christmas has come and gone.  “Following the Christmas celebrations,” the folks at Trip Savvy say, “Ecuadorians create effigies or dolls stuffed with hay and fireworks. These figures are representations of disliked people, national or local officials, famous people or folkloric characters and will be ignited on New Year’s Eve, at the Fiesta de Año Viejo.”

Of course, you don’t have to travel to the Galapagos Islands or visit Ecuador during the holidays to adopt this particular tradition. Just be careful not to burn yourself!

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