Though commonly associated with Mexico, the Day of the Dead is celebrated in many Central and South American countries, including Ecuador, where it’s known as Día de los Difuntos (Day of the Deceased). From traditional festive foods to graveside offerings, here’s what you can expect from Day of the Dead celebrations in the capital city of Quito.
When to Go
Ecuador’s Day of the Dead is a national holiday when citizens pay respects to those who have passed away. The holiday takes place on November 2, which coincides with the Catholic feast of All Souls’ Day, though you’ll see evidence of the upcoming Day of the Dead festivities, such as seasonal pastries and drinks, in the weeks leading up to this date.
Where to Go
Day of the Dead celebrations in Quito center around cemeteries, with families gathering beside the graves of loved ones. Though there are celebrations in the city center, more traditional festivities often take place in rural or indigenous communities such as Calderón and Otavalo.
Ways to Celebrate
Most families hold vigils at the tombs of their loved ones, often adorning their graves with flower arrangements, candles, and decorative figurines made from bread dough. Head to one of Quito’s cemeteries or the cemetery in Calderón, about 30 minutes from Quito, to observe families celebrating the memory of the departed.
In the weeks leading up to the Day of the Dead, you’ll see guagua de pan (a sweet bread roll decorated to resemble a baby or doll) and colada morada (a hot beverage made from blue or black corn flour, berries, and other fruits) for sale across Quito. Be sure to taste these festive specialties, which are as essential to Ecuador’s Day of the Dead as chocolate eggs are to Easter, or apples and honey are to Rosh Hashanah.