Pase Del Nino – Celebrating Jesus’ Birth
Cuenca is often seen as the capital of artistic abilities and culture in Ecuador. Many of Ecuador’s most famous artists, philosophers and writers were born in the city. It has grown into an economically stable city that is also a popular tourist attraction due to the many carefully handcrafted items that are produced here and the magnificent beauty of its surrounding landscapes. But as historic city in Ecuador, the cobblestone streets of Cuenca come alive with traditional festivals throughout the year, with one of the most spectacular festivals being Pase Del Nino or Nino Viajero.
Pase Del Nino is a form of Christmas pageant that is one of the biggest celebrations of the year in Ecuador. It is believed that Pase Del Nino Viajero started in Ecuador around the 1960s when a Christ Child statue, known as Nino Viajero, was brought back from Rome. The statue had been blessed by the Pope himself. Preceding festivities leading up to the Pase Del Nino festival take place from the start of December. The Pase Del Nino Viajero is always celebrated on 24 December, on Christmas Eve.
The celebration of Pase Del Nino usually begins at approximately ten o’clock in the morning and lasts throughout the day. Musicians follow the procession, or pageant, through the streets of Cuenca, from San Sebastian, down Simon Bolivar Street, past the Calderon Plaza and ending in San Blas. The route may vary from year to year. Many days of planning and organization goes into this wonderful celebration, as the procession is a sea of floats, trucks and costumes.
The parade of color, horses and uplifting music depicts the journey of Mary and Joseph to the town of Bethlehem. Children are in awe of the parade as they are able to catch a glimpse of the Three Wise Men, shepherds and even a few angels. As one of the biggest religious festivals of the year, Pase Del Nino has become an attraction in Cuenca, as many visitors join in the celebrations and festivities. It is a festival that is enjoyed by the whole family, but also dedicates a day to Baby Jesus. As he was a symbol of hope and redemption, the celebration brings the people of Cuenca together, in peace and prosperity, to remember the birth of Jesus and look forward to the coming year with hope in their hearts.