The Christmas season is serious business in Ecuador with much of the population practicing traditional Roman Catholic beliefs. Though Christmas is celebrated on Dec. 25, the day before might hold more cultural significance. Christmas Eve is the celebration of the birth of Jesus, or the Pase del Nino Viajero – The Passing of the Traveling Child.
Pase del Nino Viajero is a religious and cultural event that takes place primarily in the city of Cuenca. The festivities began back in the 1960s when the statue of the Christ Child arrived in Ecuador from Rome. The Pope himself blessed the statue, lending it a special significance to the Ecuadorian people. The celebration begins at 10 o’clock in the morning Dec, 24, and has seen upward of 70,000 people in attendance. The heart of the festivities takes place at the Heart of Jesus Church and ends at Carmen de la Asuncion. It includes a procession through the streets of Cuenca with floats, horses, costumed dancers, street performers on stilts and actors depicting prominent moments from the Bible. You might also see a Michael Jackson impersonator here and there.
Throughout the day you can find live music performed around the city alongside large gatherings of family and friends. As one of the largest cultural and religious holiday events in the country, it’s a must for anyone looking to explore Ecuadorian culture.
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