Sunday, Jan 8, 2016

I’ve been working at my desk this morning and, looking out my big window, I noticed people riding horseback on the trail along the Yanuncay. I’ve seen a horseback rider every now and then on the trail, but today I have counted 12 pass by so far.

Two men waiting for their friends to catch up

Sometimes it is a solo rider, and sometimes a group of two or three. In one of the groups it was only kids maybe 10 years old riding alone. Another time it is a couple of adults and a kid that looks like he is only seven, but a very competent rider. I have no idea where these people are going but the intermittent parade of horses and their riders continue to pass by my picture window view.

Heidi and I went for a walk along the Yanuncay before the playoff football games started. To my surprise there was a parade in process on Primero de Mayo. This was astonishing to me because it seems like all the parades are in El Centro.

This parade had many people on horseback dressed up as biblical characters. An angel led the parade followed by people dressed up as kings, and then an altar of sorts was the focal point in the parade.

I did some research and this is a Christian feast day celebrating the Epiphany, or Three Kings Day. It is to recognize the presence of the Son of God on earth, incarnate in Jesus. born into the world. This holiday is celebrated by Christians on the 12 day of Christmas which is always January 6th.

Today is Sunday January 8th, not the 6th so I’m a bit confused. After some more reading I learned that many countries will choose to celebrate the Epiphany, or Three Kings Day, on the first Sunday following the 6th of January. This is what is happening with this parade.

I understand there was a large parade on Friday (the 6th) in El Centro. The parade here must be organized by a local church in the area. Some of the activities of the Epiphany celebration are having your house blessed, winter swimming, and eating Three Kings Cake. I also read that Christmas decorations are not removed until the night of the Epiphany. This would explain why I see Christmas trees still up in some of the homes I walk by.

Parade goers dressed up in their prettiest dresses

I love how Ecuadorians use what they have to make things work. Instead of expensive and elaborately built floats, they use their vehicles. Cover a car with colorful blankets and decorate it with garland and ribbon, and voila, a perfectly good float.

Women walk with flowers, men bring their instruments to play, and the parade has beauty and music. A crowd of people walk alongside, adults and kids, cheering and laughing.

It’s pretty simple really. And that is usually how life in Ecuador goes.