An Ecuadorean Christmas Tradition on LI

The Pase del Niño Viajero de San Joaquin celebration in East Hampton on Sunday, Dec. 16. (Photo by Durell Godfrey via The East Hampton Star)

On Dec. 16 in East Hampton, Ecuadorean community members, joined by an 11-piece brass band, proceeded down Main Street to Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church for their annual Pase del Niño Viajero de San Joaquin celebration, reports Johnette Howard for The East Hampton Star. The event is a recreation of the largest Christmas pageant in their home country.

The daylong celebration, which organizers say typically draws 400 to 600 people to the church, is a re-creation of a religious festival that began in the early 1960s in the historical city of Cuenca, the capital of the Azuay province in Ecuador. An antique carved statue of the Christ child was taken first to Bethlehem, and then on to Rome by a local monsignor, where it was blessed by Pope John XXIII. As the story goes, when the statue returned to Cuenca, someone in the cheering crowd called out, “Ya llegó el Viajero!” — “The traveler has arrived!”

And that’s how the original statue, which dates to 1823, became known as the Niño Viajero, the Child Traveler.

Ramiro Pillco, who was one of the masters of ceremony, expressed two hopes for the Pase del Niño Viajero de San Joaquin celebration: one involving the younger generation and the other the greater East End community. Find out what they are and read more on the event at The East Hampton Star.

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