Ecuador remembers its beloved ancestors with singular traditions.
Most cultures over the world have diverse traditions to honor loved ones who are no longer with them during All Souls Day. In Ecuador, this tradition takes place every year on November 2nd and it is known as “The day of the faithful departed”. This custom started many centuries ago and is the adaptation of indigenous commemorations and Roman Catholic Church rituals.
Every year most Ecuadorian families get together on November 2nd to taste the traditional “Colada Morada”, accompanied by some delicious “Guaguas de pan”. In many communities, families still organize gatherings at cemeteries to sit near the graves of their relatives. The purpose of the event is to eat lunch or dinner and to accompany their loved ones on this special day that is dedicated to honor their memoir.
Even though holiday is very close to Halloween, the purpose is by no means comparable. The day of the faithful departed is not related to witches, ghosts or fearful creatures; but to the connection that native cultures had with their relatives. It is also not about costumes, because the most remarkable thing in this festivity is its gastronomy. Hundreds of establishments offer the typical “Guaguas de Pan”, which is basically sweet bread shaped in form of a small doll.
One of the objectives of this indigenous-mestizo tradition is to create a relationship with food and beverages so children will embrace this practice and preserve their believe system. Therefore its name “guagua”, which means child in Quechua. The bread is decorated with candy colors so it looks like the guaguas have face and clothes. The imagination of some chefs flies, when they fill these breads with different marmalades and syrups.
The Guaguas are served with Colada Morada; a beverage that is elaborated with 8 fruits (sometimes even more), cinnamon, black corn flower, myrtle, cloves, herbs such as lemongrass, lemon verbena and many other ingredients that vary depending on the family recipe. Its name Colada Morada is due to the mortiño, an Ecuadorian type of blackberry that is the main ingredient of this recipe. Being a somewhat complicated beverage to prepare, it works normally as a perfect excuse to gather the whole family. Although these two dishes are mostly prepared and celebrated at home, many Ecuadorians use the holidays to go on vacations and visit other cities of Ecuador.
All Souls day is a very important tradition in Ecuador. The unique scents of this ancestral beverage remind many people the warmth of their homes. The fusion of flavors and costumes not only fill the streets with incredible smells, but they also show how close the Ecuadorian families are and how we remember our loved ancestors.