Chota

Chota

Sunday, 30 January 2011

{Novena & Nascimentos}

{Novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe}

For those of you who have read my previous blogs, you’ll know that I spent this Christmas in Ecuador at my sister’s home in Cumbaya, a valley just outside Quito.  This year the families living in my sister’s housing complex decided that each house would host the Novena. The Novena is a Catholic tradition associated with Christmas, and very typical in Ecuador. For nine days before Christmas, families get together in each other’s homes, follow liturgical readings associated with Christmas, and they sing traditional Ecuadorian Christmas songs together. The nine days represent the nine months of gestation, when Christ was in Mary’s womb.
{the novena in my sister's home}

{after singing carols, the kids enjoyed lighting sparklers every night}


This was a great chance for my sister’s neighbours to get to know each other better, and the parents decided that each kid would have an ‘amigo secreto’ or secret friend. Nearing the end of the Novena, we all gathered together in the park that is part of their complex, we had lunch (which included mouth-watering ceviche) and the kids exchanged gifts. It was a great opportunity for me to partake in a local tradition, get to know my sister’s neighbours, and to learn some great Ecuadorian Christmas carols. I actually learned a few & featuring among my favourites are Claveles y Rosas, Bienvenido Seas and Los Peces en el Rio.
{the girls in my sister's complex exchanging gifts}

{me & my sister's family (minus baby Juan) at the gift exchange for Novena}
{decorating cookies for our Novena party}


 In Ecuador, as in many Catholic countries the nascimento is an important part of Christmas. This is a crèche that every family has in their home. Some really go all out with huge scenes taking up half the living room. Baby Jesus isn’t found in the nativity scene until Christmas Eve, when He usually makes a grand entrance.
One day we visited the Glass Palace, in the Parque Itchimbia. The structure, I’m sure, is based on Paxton's design for the Crystal Palace built to house the Great Exhibition of 1851 in Hyde Park, London.

{me in front of the Glass Palace, Quito}

{Paxton's Crystal Palace, London, 1851}

The views are breathtaking, but the space is often used for exhibitions and we were lucky to stumble across an exhibition competition of nascimentos done by local artists.
{exhibition space}


{my niece & brother-in-law 'inspecting' the artworks}





{reconstruction of San Francisco}

Visitors are asked to vote, and we were happy to see later in the paper that the nascimento we voted for won the competition. Our favourite was a wonderful replication of San Francisco, the monastery and church complex that my sister was married in.  
{the views from the Glass Palace are breathtaking}

{my niece playing in the playground near the Glass Palace (look at that view behind her!)}

{we went to a restaurant nearby for a drink, with once again, an amazing view of Quito}



Other highlights of Christmas traditions leading up to Christmas, were... driving and getting a Christmas tree from a local grower...

{me & my niece picking out the *perfect* tree}

{stuffing the tree into the trunk}


{my niece & the decorated tree}
...I also fully enjoyed attending my niece's Christmas pageant--she had to wear the dress featured above, and danced the salsa to a Gloria Estefan song...it was a delight seeing all the kids dressed up for the Christmas pageant (Christmas, of course, with a Latin American twist).



{my niece on the right}

1 comment:

  1. The picture of ML in her pagent outfit is adorable!!! And the Novenas must have been a great neighbourly experience that is unique to Ecuador.

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