Colada morada y guagua de pan Ecuador

What is “Día de los Muertos” in Ecuador?

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Every 1st and 2nd of November most Latin-American countries celebrate Día de los Muertos. The celebration consists in vigils and visits to the cementeries where flowers and traditional food are taken to the deceased. In this guide we want to let you know a bit more about how this day is celebrated in Ecuador.


Pre-Hispanic cultures held great respect for the dead in the Andean regions and it was represented with countless rituals, symbols and food.

One of the extended rituals in the Tahuantinsuyo, ancient Inca territory, consisted of visiting the graves of the deceased once a year and taking out their mummies. Along with them ritual foods such as “colada morada” were shared, and other rituals were performed as a sign of respect.

In Ecuador (celebrated in Nov. 2nd) as in great part of South America, the blend of cultures is embodied in many aspects of the culture. The Catholic tradition establishes that November the 1st is the start of Día de los Muertos and the indigenous people accepted it as part of their rituals.

This is a very interesting tradition, you can learn more about the mix of both cultures as it is evidenced in the cementery of Otavalo. Here two cementeries exist in the same place one mixed (for people with European ascendance) where the tombs are very orderly and sober. And the indigenous where you can often see families sharing a meal next to the grave of a loved one.


The culture and traditions are also reflected in the gastronomy as in the case of the preparation of “Colada morada”, a hot and thick beverage which is made with about 20 ingredients, among those the purple corn flour stands out, red fruits and unique plants that are found in the Ecuadorian Andes.

The “Colada morada” is complemented with “Guaguas de pan”, child-shaped figures made with french brioche dough, that usually have jam filling inside.

The colonization meant an exchange of culture and religious traditions. The Catholic church prohibited the removal of the dead from their grave because it was an act of desecration. Over time, guaguas de pan symbolically replaced the mummies of the dead.

In Quichua the word “guagua” means boy or girl. It is believed that guaguas de pan bear this name since they initially represented deceased children. There are also vestiges of ceremonial breads shaped like animals and sacred symbols.

In Latin American culture, death has a very deep meaning that is reflected in these kind of traditions. Most celebrations of the “Dia de los Muertos” are open to the public, but it is advisable to contact a local family to learn more about the traditions.

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