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Christmas in Quito

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In Quito, as in the rest of Ecuador, Christmas festivities are a mix of religious, civic and personal celebrations.

During the month of December, Pesebres, or nativity scenes, are erected in various locales. They are often quite elaborate, with traditional scenes of the manger, and figures clothed in local or Ecuadorian costumes. Sometimes, the figures in the pesebre are real, men, women and children performing the ancient story.

In addition, there are the Novenas, public gatherings of prayer, hymns, religious poetry accompanied by incense and hot chocolate and cookies. (Hot chocolate in the middle of summer may sound unappealing, but it's the tradition that counts!)

On Christmas Eve, families enjoy the Cena de Nochebuena, which traditionally includes stuffed turkey or chicken, grapes and raisins, salads, rice with cheese, local produce and wine or chicha.

Once the children are asleep, parents leave their presents at the foot of their beds. At midnight, the Misa del Gallo attracts huge numbers. This mass is a lenghty affair.

Christmas Day is a family day, with gifts and visits.

Following the Christmas celebratiions, Ecuadorians create effigies or dolls stuffed with hay and fireworks. These figures are representations of disliked people, national or local officials, famous people or folkloric characters and will be ignited on New Year's Eve, at the Fiesta de Año Viejo.

Feliz Navidad!

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