Christmas in Ecuador

When I was 21 I went to work as an English teacher in Ecuador. I’d just finished university and was up for a gap year adventure. I arrived in Ecuador at the beginning of December.

Sunshine and snow
December is one of the hottest months of the year in Ecuador with temperatures generally over 30 degrees. This was a bit of a shock to me as the palest woman on earth fresh from the freezing UK winter. It was so random to see Christmas decorations featuring snowy scenes which were so out of place in the blistering heat. For a little bit of Christmas from home I had brought a little Christmas tree ornament my mum had given me and a big bar of Dairy Milk (which a kill joy customs officer had made me unwrap at the airport).

Ecuadorian Christmas Decorations

I was really happy to be invited to spend Christmas with a friend and was adopted as an honouree member of her family. They also took in a fellow traveller, my friend Jonas from Switzerland. I was very touched to be welcomed with open arms and will always remember the warm welcome. My Spanish was still quite minimal at the time so joining in and making myself understood was hilariously hit and miss.

Christmas Eve
The main celebration happened on 24th December. It is quite common for neighbours to club together to put up a Christmas tree for the neighbourhood, the sparkler the better. On Christmas Eve, as it got dark, we all took a stroll around the area checking out the different trees and lights and eating ice cream.

We spent the evening of Christmas Eve playing cards, chatting and watching TV. The top show on TV was a really cheesy singing competition similar to the Eurovision Song Contest for Latin American countries (La OTI). Someone played a guitar for us to sing along to. We then ate a big Christmas meal at midnight. The food was surprisingly similar to the UK with turkey dinner.

My last impression of the celebration was that it was quite simple with a big focus on family and community.

Christmas Day
The celebrations on the 25th were completely different to Christmas Day here. I spent the day with another friend and his family. We blocked off the street with cars at either end and all the family and friends held a tennis tournament. The rules were very lax and there was a fair amount of drinking mixed in. It was incredibly hot and I got quite sunburnt. It was quite surreal. According to my Ecuadorian husband it is quite common for families and neighbours to get together on 25th December and do some kind of joint activity, maybe a football match or a street party.

Life is generally lived so much more outdoors in Ecuador, probably because the weather is so much better and this Christmas Day really reflected this.

Trying to phone home
In the pre Skype days my Swiss friend and I spent a long time searching for a working pay phone that we could use to call our families. I was desperate to get in touch with my loved ones and tried over and over again to get a connection. After lots of unsuccessful attempts I was a bit teary by the time I eventually got through.

I love Christmas in the UK and all of our family traditions. Even so I’m really happy that I had the chance to celebrate Christmas Ecuadorian style.

10 thoughts on “Christmas in Ecuador

  1. I still find it weird when i see pictures of Mr B’s cousin celebrating Christmas in Australia wearing a tshirt and shorts! Where is the cold temperatures we are used too! It must have been nice though to actually be apart of Christmas in another country so you can compare the differences 🙂
    Rachel (Lifeofmyfamilyandme) recently posted…My visit to London with my OCDMy Profile

    1. It wa a great experience plus very stress free as there was zero shopping or preparation involved. The weather made it very surreal!

    1. I feel really lucky to have had the chance to live abroad and have a really different type of Christmas. Our Christmas is pretty British but we go very Ecuadorian for New Years. It involves burning things, I’ll do a post about it soon!

    1. It would be so funny to be on the beach for Christmas Day! I think there is something about living in a hot country that brings people out of their houses and together a bit more (well that was my press ion in Ecuador anyway).

  2. Wow, Christmas is so different in Ecuador. I’d have a hard time getting used to heat on Christmas. Coming to Ireland, it’s strange not to have snow! It’s lovely that neighbors, family & friends all spend Christmas day together. x
    Becky, Cuddle Fairy recently posted…Mulled Wine RecipeMy Profile

    1. I loved the family and community side of it but couldn’t get my head around the how hot it was.

  3. This is an interesting post for me as I’m from Peru as you know and my Christmas is completely different than in the UK. It is actually a little bit similar to your experience in Ecuador but not the same. I actually love Christmas in the Summer. I guess it is because I’m totally used to that. It is a different way to see it but for me Xmas means being tan and ready for the summer. The people starts heading towards their beach houses just after Xmas to spend the New Year in front of the sea, with champagne and breathing that amazing sea smell that I love! Oh I’m feeling so nostalgic right now!! We celebrate Xmas properly on Xmas Eve. Everything happens that day really. We wait until midnight to open presents and say Merry Xmas to all. We have fireworks displays and some years we even jumped into the swimming people to have some fun!! I know it is different to have Xmas in the Summer but at the same time it is so much fun!! I think I need to write a post about it!! LOL 😉 xx
    A Moment with Franca recently posted…Uniwheel Event in Shoreditch, LondonMy Profile

    1. Thanks Franca, I’m glad This post has made you think of good times at home. I’d love to read a post about Christmas in Peru.

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