Updated: Dec 2, 2018
• location: Cuenca city • Country: Ecuador • Region: Southamerica
The Pase del Niño (Child Jesus) celebration is a three-month-long activity, beginning the first Sunday after Advent and continuing to Carnival in early March. It is a form of Christmas pageant, mixing sacred and profane symbols and it is one of the biggest celebrations of the year in Ecuador. The celebration is actually a collection of hundreds of smaller or larger parades. However "El Pase Del Niño Viajero" (The Parade of the Traveller Child Jesus), which takes place in the morning of Christmas Eve (December the 24th) is the main event, and the one we refer to.
El Pase del Niño Viajero (The Parade of the Traveller Child Jesus) started in 1961 after a Christ child sculpture was brought back from Rome -Italy-. The sculpture of the infant Jesus dates from 1823 from an unknown artist. When the sculpture came into the possession of Cuenca's Monsignor Miguel Cordero Crespo, more than a century later, the Monsignor took it to the Holy Land and Rome, where it was blessed by Pope John XXIII. After the journey and the anointment, the statute became known as Niño Viajero (Traveller Child), and is the parade´s core element.
This main parade lasts around eight hours featuring floats and cars, several of them covered with flowers, and decorated with candies and fruits, liquor bottles, roasted pigs and chickens holding peppers or Dollar bills on their peaks. There are various Biblical characters, and the traditional groups of dancers, street performers, music bands, and stilt-walkers. Nevertheless also popular modern icons such as Santa Claus, Disney's Charaters or other characters famous at the moment appear in the crowd of the procession. Anyways, everywhere you look there are children dressed in elaborate homemade costumes.