Paseo del Nino – Christmas in Cuenca, Ecuador
Cuenca, Ecuador is quickly becoming a popular travel destination for young travelers looking for a genuine and cultural experience during their travels. It is also becoming a very popular destination for expats to settle into. The cost of living, kindness of the locals and solid infrastructure of the city all make it a wonderful city to explore.
Last Christmas, Marina and I made the trek down to Cuenca to visit my parents who, after 30 years living in the Washington, DC are, fell in love with Cuenca on a holiday and decided to move down there. Their small house on the outskirts of town, was nestled in the hills, surrounded by farm land, goats and sheep, at the end of a dirt road with no name. True authentic rural Ecuadorian life.
The Ecuadorians are a deeply passionate people, and their Paseo del Nino Christmas celebration is no exception. The streets of downtown Cuenca are packed on December 24, for the annual holiday procession. The parade is seemingly endless with hundreds of families in the city marching with carts, cars, horses, goats, floats, banners and every kind of Christmas flair you could imagine.
Paseo del Nino, meaning “pass the child”, has deep Roman roots but is most celebrated in Ecuador on Christmas eve. This procession gives the peasants and working class families living outside of the city the chance to highlight their families, children and to be honored as they make their way through the streets. Each family will dress up a small child to lead the procession to much fan fare.
The parade truly is endless, with thousands of families marching through the streets offering endless performances, musical offerings and often throwing candy or home made pastries into the crowd. The family floats are intricately adorned with candy, foods, meats, liquor bottles, dead pigs, chickens, guinea pigs and cartons of cigarettes. While a deeply religious celebration in certain areas, the Paseo del Nino is also a gigantic party and a beautiful display of familial ties and community bonds between the community members of history Cuenca, Ecuador.
One of the most elaborate and unique holiday celebrations I have witnessed, it is a special city to be in to witness such a fun display of holiday cheer, especially if you can be with family!
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Jeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all.
A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh.
Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at email@example.com and they’ll respond super fast!