My taxi cab driver looked surprised when I confirmed that we celebrate Christmas on the 25th. In spanish he remarked, “you celebrate it the same day we do?” I told him that I was pretty sure that everyone gives Jesus the same birthday party. it is funny how surprised someone can be that their country can have commonalities with another country–one that seems so different from a television perspective!
Christmas here in Ecuador is not that different from home on the surface. Yesterday the Mall was filled with shoppers trying to find the perfect gift…or just buying presents to have something for today. But the holiday is much more toned down than at home. Children typically receive one present. Few gifts are exchanged outside the house unless it is for someone special. Christmas turkey dinner is held on the 25th, but not until midnight in many households.
Once outside a metropolis like Quito is where the similarities stop. Outside the wealth of Quito, there is little to make you think that Christmas is any different than the day before, or the day to follow. Cows still need to be milked, the fields hoed, and there is little extra money for presents and big turkey dinners. But the family still gathers together to share love and good feelings.
Now on a footnote: Christmas takes a bit of a side chair to New Years in South American countries. The anticipation for New Years Eve is just starting to build. And we will look forward to initiating our newly arrived friends into the nuances of New Years Eve in the days to come.
As Santa says here in Ecuador: “Jo Jo Jo” Feliz Navidad.