In honor of Semana Santa “Holy Week” beginning today, I thought we could discuss how this tradition takes place in Ecuador. In a country with an overwhelming Catholic faith (over 95% of locals), Holy week is a time that brings to life several unique traditions.
Central to the purpose of celebrating Holy Week, festivities start with the procession of Jesús del Gran Poder “Jesus the Almighty.” This is colorful and spectacular sightseeing. This procession includes devotees who carry massive crosses throughout, and thousands of citizens dress in purple robes (Cucuruchos) and march through the streets of Quito as a demonstration of their faith. This procession brings thousands to local churches and cathedrals, which stand as iconic symbols of faith, but also highlight the beauty of Quito's colonial center.
Ecuador also has a traditional dish that is served on this day, which is prepared from twelve different grains, representing the twelve disciples, and Christ who is symbolized through the serving of fish. This dish called "Fanesca" is a staple in every household. make sure you have some!
This year, also taking place in Quito is the International Sacred Music Festival. During the festival, churches and plazas around Quito are filled with world-renowned artists and groups performing all sorts of beautiful sacred music. The best part? The events are free to the public! By the way, do you know who’s heading to Quito on April 28th, just after Holy Week? Sir Paul McCartney, that’s who. You may have heard of him. Is he there to cap off the International Sacred Music Festival, or just give a normal, outstanding concert per usual? Your call.