Halloween, a time when the entire world dresses up; as a scary ghost or not so scary nurse, eating far too many sweets and running around town playing pranks, In Ecuador, however, All Saints day, much like in the rest of Latin America, celebrates the lives of the dead.
Families will gather together in a community cemetery with offerings of food to begin their day long remembrance of their ancestors and loved ones. They eat traditional Ecuadorian food, that is only supposed to be eaten at this time of year (much like mince pies in England). A thick spiced drink, made from Andean blackberries and purple maize, which gives it a shocking purple colour that supposedly symbolises life, called Colada Morada, is served alongside Guaga de Pan, a bread shaped like a baby, as guaga is the kichwa word for babies. These breads are decorated with bright icing and filled with delicacies such as cheese or guava.
In the Kichwa cemetaries, there is a lively atmosphere, everyone comes to celebrate, wearing traditional clothing of brightly embroidered shirts and ribbons, whilst girls wear their hair in tight plaits. Food is left on the graves, which rather than being traditional mausoleum style, are mounds of dirt with steps, and placed at the top are several crosses as it usual for more than one family member to be buried in the same place. Food is left on the graves, which are cleaned and flowers are replaced with fresh ones. Music is played throughout the day as families gather around.
Unlike in Mexico where the celebrations go on through the night, Ecuador’s Dia de los Disfuntos only last the day, with street vendors and food stalls closing up as the sun sets and families leaving the cemeteries for another year.