What do holidays and street names have in common? Well, it seems that in Latin America they name their streets after important people and important dates in their history.
For instance, we have lived in four different condos over the course of the 2-1/2 years that we have lived in Cuenca. Our first condo was on Avenida de las Americas (Avenue of the Americas). Our second condo was on Veintsiete de Febrero (27th of February, which is the National Community Spirit Day). Our third condo was on Agustin Cueva Vallejo. And now we're living on Primero de Mayo (1st of May, which is Labor Day).
Other date-street names are:
- Diez de Agosto (10th of August, which is Quito's Independence Day)
- Doce de Abril (12th of April, which is the Founding of Cuenca Day)
- Doce de Octubre (12th of October, which is Columbus Day)
- Tres de Noviembre (3rd of November, which is Cuenca's Independence Day)
- Veinticuatro de Mayo (24th of May, which is the Battle of Pichincha Day).
Here is a list of the National holidays in Ecuador. Those with an asterick (**) are also street names.
- Primero de Enero (January 1st) AÑO NUEVO -- New Year's Day
- Seis de Enero (January 6th) EPIPHANY HOLIDAY -- Always the 12th day after Christmas, Epiphany celebrates the visit of the three wise men to the Christ Child, signifying the extension of salvation to the Gentiles.
- CARNAVAL (on February 11th and 12th this year) -- Similar to Mardi Gras, Carnaval is celebrated just before Lent. It is the ultimate party in the Catholic nations of Latin American. While not as extravagant in Ecuador as in other Latin American countries, celebrations here include water balloon fights and lavish parades. Ambato is a good destination where its famous fruit and flower parade takes place. Although the dates change annually according to the religious calendar, Carnaval is always celebrated as an extended weekend prior to Ash Wednesday.
- **Veintisiete de Febrero (February 27th) DÍA NACIONAL DE LA COMUNIDAD ESPÍRITU -- National Community Spirit Day, which was originally held in remembrance of the Tarqui Battle, but these days is a national holiday celebrating civic activities and events.
- VIERNES SANTOS (Good Friday) (on March 29th this year) -- Religious processions and an endless supply of fanesca (a delicious, typical stew eaten throughout the week) mark Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. Holy Saturday is the only official holiday on which stores must be closed, and merchants decide to open or close on the other days. Beaches can get packed during Holy Week.
- DOMINGO DE RESURRECCION (Easter) (on March 31st this year)
- **Doce de Abril (April 12th) (Founding of Cuenca) -- The Spanish settlement of Cuenca was founded on April 12, 1557 by the explorer Gil Ramirez Davalos. Andres Hurtado de Mendoza, then Viceroy of Peru had commissioned the founding and ordered the city named after his home town of Cuenca, Spain. It was founded decades after other major Spanish settlements in the region, such as Quito (1534), Guayaquil (1538), and Loja (1548).
- **Primero de Mayo (May 1st) DIA DEL TRABAJO (Labor Day) -- Typical parades and processions fill the streets of Ecuador, honoring workers worldwide..
- **Veinticuatro de Mayo (May 24th) BATALLA DE PICHINCHA (Battle of Pichincha) -- Military and civilian parades mark the day in 1822 when the country’s most important battle in the war for independence from Spain was fought.
- CORPUS CRISTI (May 30th this year) -- Usually celebrated on the 9th Thursday after Easter, this religious holiday/traditional-highlands-harvest celebration includes ceremonies and dancing. Corpus Christi also known as Septenario is the oldest festival in Cuenca, held since 1557. Ssince then it has become one of the greatest festivals of Cuenca. It is a Christian religious festival, brought from Spain during the Conquest. The name comes from the Latin phrase that literally means, "Body of Christ". This celebration exalts the spiritual value of the Catholic Eucharist, based on the facts of the Last Supper of Jesus with His apostles. Religious acts like processions and more popular celebrations take place in Parque Calderon which is surrounded by sweets, bright colors and flavors, along with the darkness-of-night contrast with numerous balloons in the air, fireworks, burning castles and traditional music.
- Veinticuatro de Julio (July 24th) EL NATALICIO DE SIMON BOLIVAR (Simon Bolivar's Birthday) -- A nationwide celebration of the birthday of the famous South American liberator.
- **Diez de Agosto (August 10th) DIA DEL PRIMER GRITO DE INDEPENDENCIA DE QUITO (Quito's Independence Day) -- First Cry of Freedom, 1809.
- **Doce de Octubre (October 12th) DIA DE LA RAZA (Columbus Day) -- Columbus Day celebrates the day in 1492 on which Christopher Columbus (Cristobal Colón) first set foot on American soil in what is now known as the Dominican Republic.
- Dos de Noviembre (November 2nd) EL DIA DE LOS DIFUNTOS -- The Ecuadorian Day of the Ancestors isn’t quite like the Mexican Day of the Dead, nor is it like American Halloween. El día de los difuntos is a time to celebrate one’s dead ancestors. In the small country villages, families dress in their finest clothes and carry a meal to the cemetery, where they dine on top of the grave of their ancestors. One plate is always left for the dead ancestor. This traditional meal includes guaguas de pan and the colada morada. Guaguas de pan are bread babies. (The word guagua, pronounced "wa-wa", is Quechuan.) Some families make their own guaguas de pan at home, but most buy them from the panaderías, or bakeries, which only make them during this time of the year. These bread babies can be up to 12 inches long and are shaped with a ball of dough for the head and a long, tapering ball of dough for the body. They are decorated with icing and may have jam or some other sweet inside. The colada morada (translated as the purple colada, or oatmeal drink) is a drink made from cooking blackberries, blueberries, cinnamon, cloves, and other fruits and spices with a little oatmeal in the water until thick. The drink is then blended until smooth. From the middle of October until the second of November, cafés and restaurants try to outdo each other in offering the best guaguas de pan and coladas moradas. In the larger towns and cities, families no longer eat with their ancestors. They spend the day visiting the cemetery and laying flowers on the graves. They may make guaguas de pan and colada morada, but only for eating with their family at home. Nevertheless, the spirit of the día de los difuntos carries on as one of the important traditions of Ecuador.
- **Tres de Noviembre (November 3rd) (Cuenca's Independence Day) -- Cuenca achieved its independence on November 3, 1820. The culmination of three days of festivities, this is the final day of Cuenca's biggest annual celebration.
- Veinticuatro de Diciembre (December 24th) EL PASE DEL NIÑO -- takes place in Cuenca. The parade of children dressed as biblical figures or wearing traditional dress pays homage to the Baby Jesus begins at 10 am and lasts all day!
- Veinticinco de Diciembre (December 25th) DIA DE NAVIDAD (Christmas Day) -- Christmas (Navidad), is celebrated in Ecuador as everywhere else in the world. But, the best and most original Christmas celebration in Ecuador is the "Pase del Niño" held in Cuenca on the 24th of December.
- Treinta y uno de diciembre (December 31st) AÑO VIEJO (New Year's Eve) -- Ecuador has a very unique tradition on December 31, Ecuadorians celebrate New Year's eve with the "años viejos"("old years"). These, are stuffed dummies constructed with paper, sawdust, wood and firecrackers shown through the whole country before they are burned. The stuffed dummies on the picture on your left for example characterize Osama Bin Laden. But other local, international politicians and famous personalities are also characterized representing the old year. Children and women (or men dressed as women) in black play the old year's "widow" role, crying and asking for some money or candies in the streets, or from house to house for the old year's (dummy) funeral. When the year that has gone by has been a very bad year, most people and the dummy's widow kick or wipe it out before it is burned, to have a better year. This tradition takes place everywhere in Ecuador, but the most exciting place to spend New year's eve is in Salinas.