Here in America and in most of Canada, we have funeral traditions that have stood the test of time for decades, even centuries.
But our traditions are vastly different from those in other countries and cultures.
This article looks at Ecuadorian funeral traditions and is part of a series that highlights how different cultures care for their dead. Other parts of the series are about Argentinian funeral traditions and German funeral traditions, among others.
Note, these traditions may vary depending on the individual and their own beliefs.
Ecuadorian Funeral Service
Traditionally, families held the wake at their home the night before the funeral. But today, many cemeteries have rooms that families can use for the wake. An Ecuadorian funeral service typically follows Catholic traditions since 81.54% of the population is Catholic, as of 2013. However, Ecuadorians have various beliefs about the afterlife. After the church funeral service, they go to the cemetery.
Depending on the location, some families still have a funeral procession walking to the cemetery. Traditionally, many cemeteries had large stone monuments and mausoleums for those who could afford it. Today, memorial gardens are a popular funeral trend for honoring and remembering loved ones.
Day of the Dead
During the Day of the Dead, families visit their ancestors’ souls at the cemetery. The celebration is at the end of October and early November. Families talk with their loved ones’ souls and bring them flowers, gifts, and food. Two common dishes they make are sweetbreads shaped like people and a purple corn drink. The purple drink is made from blue or black cornmeal, blueberries, blackberries, and other fruits and spices.
Additionally, the Day of the Dead is the perfect time for families to introduce the concept of death to their younger family members. It’s a way for them to start the conversation about death while honoring their ancestors.
Other Memorialization Traditions
On the first month and year anniversary of the death, there’s another church mass in the deceased’s honor. The deceased’s family and friends also visit the cemetery more often and for longer periods than in North America. They bring chairs to sit on by the gravesite and talk to their loved one. Most families visit on significant holidays or whenever they want to spend time with the deceased.