It might be traditionally known as a Mexican festival, but the Day of the Dead is also an important celebration throughout many South and Central American countries, including Ecuador where it’s known as ‘Día de los Difuntos’ (Day of the Ancestors). Held to coincide with the Catholic holiday of All Souls’ Day on November 2nd, the Day of the Dead belies its morbid name by honoring the deceased through cheerful celebration.
The Day of the Dead is a public holiday in Ecuador and locals use their time to visit the graves of their families, cleaning, repairing and repainting the crosses and gravestones and adorning them with enormous bunches of flowers. The festivities are a community affair, with vendors lining up outside cemetery gates around the country, to sell elaborate flower arrangements and specially made foods and drinks, like Guagua de Pan (bread rolls shaped like children) and Colada Morada (a sweet juice made from blackberries and corn flour syrup), which are shared between the families.
The unique festivities make spending the Day of the Dead in Quito extra special and for an insight into the poignant local traditions, include a visit to the San Diego Cemetery, one of the city’s oldest cemeteries, on your city tour. Known as the ‘Corner of Souls’, the cemetery is not only an exquisite example of Quito’s colonial architecture, but provides an atmospheric setting in which to learn about the rich history and culture behind the Day of the Dead, while watching the hundreds of local families sing, dance and eat around the graves of their loved ones.