One thing I learned while researching Día de los Muertos is that while Mexicans may be the only ones who usually celebrate Día de los Muerto...

Día de los Difuntos

One thing I learned while researching Día de los Muertos is that while Mexicans may be the only ones who usually celebrate Día de los Muertos, most Hispanic countries have their own variations on the Day of the Dead. One such country is Ecuador, with its celebration of Día de los Difuntos on November 2nd. I was very fortunate to connect with Stephanie Scott - a mother, artist, and educator living in Ecuador between the Andes and the Amazon. Stephanie was kind enough to share with me how they celebrate Día de los Difuntos in Ecuador.

"On November 2nd people visit the graves of the dead. Normally in Ecuador, people take flowers and clean up the gravesites on this day. This year, because of the pandemic, the government is asking cemeteries to close to prevent people from gathering en masse and risking an increase in COVID infections.

In addition to the specific remembrance on November 2nd, people eat guaguas de pan and drink colada morada during the whole month of October leading up to November 2nd. Then, we typically do not make or eat those foods for the whole rest of the year.

Some indigenous groups may visit graves in a procession and take the guagua de pan as an offering. Guagua means baby or small child in Kichwa, Ecuador's most widely spoken indigenous language. Offering this bread doll to the dead is a symbol of the connection of life/birth and death.

Colada morada is made from the flour of purple corn and many different herbs, some specific to Ecuador and in season during October. It also uses various fruits, of which, mortiño is also in season in October and not year-round. Mortiño is a small berry that is purple in color and it grows in the Andean region.

Día de los Difuntos is a Catholic holiday which has been syncretized with native traditions and local foods. However, Ecuador is very diverse and this tradition, which centers on Andean crops and practices, has spread to the coastal and Amazonian regions where it in turn has been adapted to the local foods and traditions of those areas. Which is all to say that not everyone celebrates it nor in the same way nor is colada morada prepared with the same ingredients in the different diverse regions of Ecuador. Indigenous people of the Amazon have other ways of dealing with death, burial, they may not observe this day or any of these specific traditions at all."

I want to thank Stephanie for taking the time to speak with me and teach me about Día de los Difuntos and its traditions. If you want to learn more about the work Stephanie does with rural Amazonian schools in Ecuador, please visit Construyendo Ambientes Sanos on Facebook. 

Click below to see how our guaguas de pan and colada morada turned out!

Guaguas de Pan

Colada Morada