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As Ecuadorian culture has strong roots in the Roman Catholic Church, it is little surprise that virtually all Ecuadorians celebrate Carnaval, the precursor and antithesis to the 40 days of abstinence that precede the religious holidaySemana Santa(Easter week). Known for their animated parties and celebrations, Ecuadorians useCarnaval to wear out their carnal desires before embarking on the arduous journey of discretion that leads up to the holy week.
In addition to Carnaval and Semana Santa, the Andean Highlands‘ most important festivals are the Mama Negra celebration in Latacunga (November), a pagan celebration dating back to the Spanish conquest during which men dress up as black women (really!), and the Otavalo celebrations of Inti Raymi (June) and Yamor (early September). Inti Raymi and Yamor both display a rich combination of indigenous cosmovision and Roman Catholicism.
Semana Santa festivities.
Photo by Adn Montalvo Estrada
Bullfights and important soccer games, though not technically festivals, serve as worthy substitutes in times of need. Pseudo bullfights (the bull isn’t killed and everyone is allowed to enter the ring in a comical display of machismo) are held throughout the year in various pueblos in the Andes. The December bullfights in Quito, however, are world-class, attracting some of the most famous fighters on the planet.
Though celebrations peak during holidays and festivals, Ecuador is fun year round. One would be hard pressed to distinguish a Friday or Saturday night in Ecuador from New Years Eve anywhere else. Join the fun!