Traditions and customs of Ecuador

What traditions and customs are there in Ecuador?

General look at the customs and traditions of Ecuador.


Food in daily life

The most basic and ubiquitous prepared meal is soup, with many variations depending on region and ingredients. Fish soups from the coast and coconut, potato-based soups from the Sierra and dishes based on Amazonian pepper are accompanied with chicken broth, avocado cream and cow’s foot and tripe soup.

The slightly fermented chicha made from cassava by the indigenous people of the Amazon can be considered as a soup in its daily consumption, not ceremonial. Other common non-fermented food beverages are made from barley and oats.

The middle and upper classes follow a European model of eating and dining: the main meal, supper, which includes several courses, is served at 2:00 p.m. and can last two hours. First comes the soup, and then the second or dry. It is a time to gather with family at home, or to meet friends or business acquaintances at a restaurant.

Workers traveling far from home can pack lunch in a vertically compartmentalized lunch bucket, or purchase inexpensive hot meals from kiosks or street vendors. These foods include potato and meat soups or stews, choclos (corn on the cob), fried sausages with onions and potatoes, and eggs.

Other favorite national dishes from the street to the restaurants are empanadas, small meat, vegetable or corn pies; shrimp, bivalve, fish, pork or beef specialties; and “typical” dishes such as locro, a potato and cheese soup, and llapingachos, potato and cheese fritters.

In the urban areas of Quito and Guayaquil you can choose food from Arby’s, Domino’s Pizza, Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald’s or TGI Friday’s. A small number of caterers specialize in home-prepared meals to accommodate employed women. The abundant fresh fruits and fruit juices are very popular.

Food customs on ceremonial occasions

A variety of special dishes are prepared from fresh ingredients for ceremonial occasions by the woman of the house and her maids. In the Sierra and parts of the Costa fanesca, during Holy Week a hearty soup is served that combines numerous beans, grains and other vegetables cooked in fish broth.

The natives of the Amazon and the Sierra prepare chicha, a drink made from cassava and corn, respectively. This drink is served on all ceremonial occasions, but in the Amazon it also provides a daily caloric intake. For the elite, alcoholic beverages, particularly

Imported Scotch whiskey (called whiskey), and imported beer and wine are served on special occasions. As one moves down the class hierarchy, whiskey is replaced by bound rums and raw cane alcohol (“trago”), and domestic beer. In some places, low-cost Chilean wines complemented or replaced chicha and the national beer.


Marriage varies greatly, with its expressions ranging from middle-class characteristics of the United States or Europe to a variety of systems including “trial marriage” and “serial polygamy.”


Respect is the key to etiquette across class and ethnic divisions and between genders. Receiving respect is having dignity, which is social knowledge of the legal status of rights. The giving and receiving – or withholding and withholding – of respect govern much of interpersonal relationships.

The opposite of respect is contempt (lack of respect). One counteracts disrespect for one’s dignity by claiming “rights,” and such rights come to one as an Ecuadorian, Ecuadorian.

All Ecuadorians demand respect in their interactions, and conflict on interpersonal, aggregate, or group bases occurs when disrespect is repeatedly observed or inferred. One of the fundamental characteristics of the black social movement is found in the phrase «the rescue of national dignity».

Black leaders say that Ecuador will lack dignity until the mestizaje ideology, with its built-in premise of whitening and race-improving subtext, is abandoned. The indigenous and black social movements, and the movements of women and the poor, are oriented towards the achievement of the status of dignity through the assignment and/or appropriation of respect.


Religious beliefs

White-mestizo religiosity is predominantly Roman Catholic and varies considerably by social class. Conservative Catholicism is steeped in patriotism. Protestantism with many dimensions and sects is common and growing, albeit with smaller congregations.

In general, a fatalistic view of the world prevails in which, ultimately, the will of God is considered to dominate events. Phrases like “God willing,” “God help me,” and “thank God” are ubiquitous. Natural disasters, which are common in Ecuador, are said to be God’s punishment for collective sin.

The government, though secular, is seen as a powerful but unconcerned father who cares little for his “children” (citizens), thus incurring the wrath of God.

Rituals and sacred places

A root metaphor for many Catholics is that of the Passion of Christ. His life symbolizes the value of suffering. Virgins and saints are second only to images of Christ in widely spread Ecuadorian Catholicism.

People make pilgrimages to virgins and saints from great distances, mainly to heal themselves of physical or mental afflictions. It is believed that some saints can heal and inflict damage and that at least one, San Gonzalo, can kill.

Syncretisms between Catholic Christianity and beliefs and practices at the local level are omnipresent and permeate all sectors of Ecuadorian culture. The indigenous peoples have a rich spiritual universe, which the shamans use to heal and harm.

Death and the afterlife

Death occurs, it is said everywhere, “when the time comes”, and this is accompanied by the statement that “no one knows when my time will come; when my hour is up, I die.” This knowledge is restricted, according to some, to God (“when God calls me”), but others say that even he does not know when one’s time on this earth will be. Near death, saints from heaven and demons from hell come to claim the soul.

Conceptions of life after death also vary widely, from pious claims that the good go to heaven and the bad go to hell, to the Afro-Ecuadorian coastal idea that most souls go to purgatory. Souls are thought to return to earth to seek their homes where the living still exist, and this is something that is not wanted.

Indigenous people have many concepts of soul movement after death, and the dichotomy between heaven and hell, mediated by purgatory, is often a superficial overlapping of indigenous cosmologies and cosmogonies.

In the Sierra and Costa during Día de los Muertos – All Souls Day – which occurs in late October or early November, people congregate in cemeteries, socialize with the souls of the departed, and honor death. herself through the images embodied in special statuettes made of bread dough and colada morada, a drink made with black and blue corn flour, blueberries, blackberries, other fruits and spices.

Secular celebrations

Soccer is the national passion of most men in all walks of life. When one encounters poverty and ethnic marginalization, he finds women playing with men.

Football reflects regional and economic differences. When the national team plays in international matches, a united Ecuadorian presence emerges throughout the country. When not united, Ecuadorians are divided in terms of the racial characteristics of their national team. Some argue that powerful sports figures seek to “lighten” the phenotype of teams.

The whitewashing attempts are strongly protested by the most prominent black organization, ASONE. Famous soccer players can achieve near sainthood, especially when they die in unforeseen and tragic circumstances. The heroes of other individual sports (for example, athletics) are also idolized and can become very prosperous.

The most prominent national secular celebrations are May 24 and August 10, the two dates of national liberation. The assumption of the presidential office always takes place in the latter. Other celebrations are October 12, Columbus Day, known as the day of the race. The elite take this as the day of the European (white) race, Spanish, from which they descend.

Other Ecuadorians take this day as a symbol of racial mixing, miscegenation. It is a day of infamy for indigenous and black leaders, who are excluded for their symbolism, as they are in everyday life.

On New Year’s Eve, a great secular party is celebrated in which characters, called dolls or old years, are created on the platforms of public roads, which are satirized and burned at midnight.

Epiphany (January 6-11) is Three Kings Day, which is celebrated by the indigenous people of the Sierra as a secular holiday. The pre-Lenten carnival is celebrated throughout the country as a great fight for water. In June and July, the mountain festivals of San Pedro, San Pablo and San Juan merge with those of Corpus Christi and the Inti Raymi solstice celebration, attracting national and international tourists.

The founding days of cities and towns are celebrated throughout the country, while the supposed “discovery” of the Amazon on February 12 is recognized mainly in the East.

The arts and humanities

Arts support

Quito proclaims itself a World Heritage Site, “the World Heritage Site,” and in 1999, Cuenca was designated by UNESCO as an International World Heritage Site. Two important organizations that support the arts and humanities are the House of Ecuadorian Culture and the Central Bank of Ecuador. These organizations are funded by the federal government.

The National Institute of Cultural Heritage is involved in the restoration of colonial buildings and some archaeological sites and in preventing national treasures from leaving the country. Excellent newspapers, television documentaries, and ethnographic and historical video productions all feature a broad spectrum of writers, analysts, and commentators, including intellectuals from various walks of cultural life, as well as academia.


Literature is rich in Ecuador, and includes writings not only by highly educated people and journalists, but also by self-taught people who have produced works of value. Among the best known authors are Juan Montalvo, Juan León Mera, Luis A. Martínez, Jorge Icaza, Jorge Enrique Adoum and Alfredo Pareja Diezcanseco.

Artists such as Benjamín Carrión, Oswaldo Guayasamín, Edwardo Kingman, Camilo Egas and Oswaldo Viteri are internationally known. Julio Jaramillo is the best known national composer.

A body of literature of international importance is produced by black scholars such as Nelson Estupiñán Bass, Argentina Chiriboga, Aldalberto Ortiz, and Preciado Bedoya, among others. Indigenous authors write in Spanish and Quichua.

Performing arts

There is a national symphony and a national folkloric ballet in Quito, but Ecuador is probably best known internationally for indigenous bands that combine and recombine various genres of Andean folk music.

Many come from Otavalo and Salasaca, but there are groups throughout the Andes and the Amazon region. The black marimba groups of Esmeraldas are increasingly known internationally.

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