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Halloween in Ecuador

October 31, 2013 Travel to Ecuador No Comments

Halloween is, to be sure, the most gringo of holidays. Only if the Fourth of July were somehow transported to South America would a celebration seem more out of place.

But Halloween episodes of popular shows like the Simpsons are as commonplace here as anywhere else and Ecuadorians must likewise cope with the annual onslaught of horror movies that come out around this time. Perhaps for this reason, Ecuador has embraced Halloween. But it could also be simply because the spooky holiday, with its free candy, colorful costumes and great parties, is a lot of fun!

Escudo-del-EcuadorHalloween is, believe it or not, a controversial subject here in Ecuador. That’s because it shares the date – October 31st – with Ecuador’s “Day of the National Seal.” On this day, Ecuadorians are supposed to contemplate the patriotic meaning behind the imagery on Ecuador’s National Seal, a colorful crest which features an Andean Condor, Chimborazo Volcano, a riverboat and several other symbolic images. A few years ago, Minister of Education Otón Morán publicly scolded those who were ignoring the National Seal in favor of the imported Halloween, even going so far as to ban Halloween in schools. A handful of Ecuadorians come out strongly in favor of one holiday or the other, but most feel, in true democratic tradition, that there is no reason not to celebrate both.



There are several ways to celebrate Halloween in Ecuador. Some of the schools still celebrate it after a fashion, no doubt responding to parents who send their kids to school in their costumes in spite of the government’s anti-Halloween stance. These schools usually call it “candy day” or “costume day” and serve up Halloween with a small dose of civic pride to appease those who favor the National Seal.

In the afternoon, kids head to the malls, where the Halloween spirit is more obviously present. Costumed kids dart from store to store, begging candies while their parents relax, sipping coffee in the aisles. Some of the malls offer activities geared towards kids, like staffed tables where you can decorate a small bag for candy with paper pumpkins and ghosts.



In the evening, certain neighborhoods in the bigger cities, such as Quito and Guayaquil, open up for trick-or-treating. These residential zones are always the ones with a higher population of foreigners. Ask around to find one close to you if you’re in a big city and have kids under 12. The participating houses will be obvious: they’re the ones with all the lights on and spiderwebs or paper skeletons hanging from the gate.

If you’re a little too old for trick-or treating but still want to enjoy Halloween, you can go out at night. Dressing up in a costume is optional. Bars where many foreigners tend to congregate – such as near the Plaza Foch area in Quito – often have costume contests, and the prizes can sometimes be substantial. Most places that will celebrate Halloween put up posters or hand out fliers ahead of time.

Halloween is still a much bigger celebration in the USA – and even in other South American countries like Colombia – but its popularity in Ecuador is growing, and there’s no reason to miss out on this spooky holiday if you’re here on October 31st!

There’s also no reason to miss out on amazing deals and options for tailor-made tours with Ecuador Luxury Tours with Columbus Travel. If you’d like to learn more about festivals or other events in Ecuador, don’t hesitate to contact one of our Destination Experts!

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