Every year, on the 6th of December, Quiteños celebrate the anniversary of the foundation of their city and Ecuadorian capital. San Francisco de Quito, as it is officially named, was founded in 1534 by the Roman Catholic Spanish conquistadors on the ruins of the Inca capital Kitu.
Fiestas de Quito
On the weeks leading up to December 6th, a party atmosphere descends on the capital and infects the Quiteños with a seemingly irresistible desire to join the farra or party. Businesses go on a half day schedule and tardiness in the morning is winked at.
The 6th of December, besides being a great excuse for partying, is a celebration of Ecuadorian colonial identity. This identity is combination of Andean inspired local culture and the classic Spanish tradition.
This mixture is evident in the music one hears in the streets, cafes and bars of Quito during the celebration. Andean melancholic rhythms of pasillos, albazo, san juanito, cachullapi are mixed with the fiercely emotive explorations typical of flamenco and the timelessness of the pasodobles. To this mix, Latin pop music and salsa, popular among the younger Ecuadorians, adds fresh energy to the Quiteño psyche. The music is the rich framework for this annual event.
The colonial duality is also expressed in the cuisine. The exquisite plates of the Creole kitchen, such as fritada (roast pork), llapingachos (potato pancakes) and ceviche alternate with the delights of the Iberian peninsula providing partygoers the needed substance for the celebrations. Energy for the Feria de Quito is important as the parties typically last until sunrise and go on every night.
The main focus of the week long event is the Feria de Toros Jesus del Gran Poder which is held at the Plaza Monumental de Toros. The bullfights go on every afternoon, rain or shine, for eight days, culminating on December 6th. The festival in Quito is arguably the most important and traditional bullfighting affair of the Americas.
The Quito bullfights always seem to draw the most outstanding personalities of the bullfighting cult from home and abroad. These include: bullfighters, both current stars and revered veterans, knowledgeable journalists, proud ganaderos or bull breeders, aficionados, musicians, artists and other important social and political figures.
Bullfighting in Ecuador
The art of bullfighting is very popular in Ecuador. The Fiesta Brava, as it is also called in Spanish, was introduced to Ecuador during the Spanish conquest. Along with other manifestations of their Old World culture, various religious missions populated the Andes with cattle that possessed the fierceness, nobility and casta (genetic purity) that makes the bullfight possible.
In Ecuador the Fiesta Brava is lived intensely. Each important city in the Sierra organizes a serious bullfighting festival during the local holidays. Ibarra, in the northern Andes, holds them in September, Ambato lives its celebration during Carnival, Riobamba, in the central Andes gets dressed up in April and Cuenca, in the southern Andes, celebrates in early November. Guayaquil, the port city, though not traditionally a bullfighting mecca, has begun to stage an annual event.
In the rural environment, towns and communities celebrate their holidays with amateur bullfighting. It is in these small towns where many of Ecuador's bullfighters are born.
All year round smaller holidays are organized and linked to the bullfighting ritual. As can be appreciated, a significant part of Ecuador's folk traditions is immersed in the mystical yet profoundly primitive traditions of bullfighting.
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