Holy Week is a weeklong religious celebration that includes Palm Sunday and Good Friday. The most popular and spectacular event during Holy Week in Ecuador is the procession of Jesús del Gran Poder (Jesus the Almighty) in Quito. Each year, about a quarter million people gather to watch the magnificent parade and experience the eerie devotion of its penitents. Celebrations also include the procession of Cristo del Consuelo in Guayaquil, and the multi-day celebration in Cuenca where the celebration begins on Palm Sunday, with a visitation to the seven churches on Holy Thursday, and the procession of the Passion of Christ on Good Friday. One culinary treat during Holy Week is the traditional dish, the famous Fanesca Soup. Fanesca is a creamy soup that contains 12 different grains and vegetables to symbolize the disciples of bible stories. It is served with hard boiled eggs, salted cod, empanadas de viento, and ripe plantains.
If you are visiting Ecuador during Holy Week, you may be surprised by the many men dressed in what looks like purple Klu Klux Klan robes. However, these men wearing dark purple robes with cone hoods that cover their faces, also known as “cucuruchos,” actually represent sinners and martyrs. They march in the Procession of the Penitents barefoot while carrying large crosses and tied to thick chains as a form of redemption for their sins. Women dressed in purple robes and veils represent the “Veronicas.” They honor the woman who wiped Jesus’ face with her veil. On the Saturday of Glory, there are street festivals everywhere as families and friends gather together to enjoy a break from daily life. Then, on Easter Sunday, the Ecuadorians attend church services.