Ecuador celebrates Christmas much like other Latin American nations, which means special Catholic masses, an emphasis on nativity scenes, and Christmas dinner and celebrations focused on Christmas Eve rather than on Christmas Day. A public holiday is observed each year on Christmas Day, 25 December.
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Ecuador has some unique Christmas traditions as well. First of all, it’s tradition that everyone gathers for a big family Christmas party and hides the gifts in a closet or another stealthy location soon after entering the building. Later, they place the gifts under the tree while someone takes the kids out to search for the Star of Bethlehem. Later on, there will be an extended gift-giving and opening ceremony.
The second striking thing about Christmas in Ecuador is the prominence of song. Carolling takes place almost anywhere and for any reason or no reason. This might be a family singing carols at home or people singing in public squares or shopping malls.
One final unique feature is the abundance of rice dishes at Christmas dinner. Arroz Navideno, spicy Christmas rice, is only one among a dozen or more popular Christmas rice dishes. While meats, vegetables, salads, and sweets all have their place, rice unquestionably dominates the Christmas table.