The past week, Ecuador celebrated carnival once again. This year was no different than the rest. Cities were filled with dancing, allegorical parades, traditional food, and the most important factor, battles of water.
This tradition has always existed in Ecuadorian history, yet where exactly did it come from? It is believed that the tradition of playing with water was acquired during colonization, where the Spanish indoctrinated the indigenous on Catholicism. The rituals demanded bathing in water as symbol of purification, as well as celebrating with extensive food and gatherings just before the start of Lent, a forty-day period of recognition and fasting previous to Easter Week.
As most of its cultural aspects, this tradition was not kept intact; rather it was syncretized with the native´s beliefs. It became much more than simply a festivity. It was celebrated with a profound relation to nature, the moon cycle, agriculture and the deities. The timing coincided with the start of spring where the indigenous expressed gratitude towards Pachacamac for fertility and land’s production. Moreover, the costumes and masks involved are an old tradition that societies wore during this holiday to represent collectivization. When all individuals were wearing a mask, everyone was equal. For just a moment, social classes disappeared and it did not matter what gender or age you were.
Carnival has a long background, that does not only go back into colonial times, but even further into the Sumerian era. The Greeks have similar celebrations such as Dionisio’s festivity. Such an important event is made up of small cultural aspects that have syncretized along human development. Now, the carnival is celebrated with all the factors described above, but it is a shame how so few actually know the reasons behind them.
Vascones del Salto, P. (2011). EL origen del carnaval. Guaranda: la nueva ciudad. Retrieved March 6, 2014 from: http://www.guaranda.gob.ec/web/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=403:origen-del-carnaval-&catid=75:el-carnaval&Itemid=165