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Fiestas de Quito: More Than a Tradition

Fiestas de Quito: More Than a Tradition By: María José Ponce Colegio Menor San Francisco de Quito

On Friday, December 5th, you could feel the happy and festive atmosphere when you came through the main gate of Colegio Menor.  Students in Lower School were dropped off that morning wearing costumes, but not for Halloween; they were dressed as important personalities from our city’s colonial history, ready to celebrate the founding of Quito.


Children dressed up as Chullita Quiteño, Cantuña´s Devil and an Española

Celebrating the founding of our capital city has become a tradition in our school. Our staff has participated in this event for many years and foreign hire teachers have embraced the tradition as theirs.  Our students take pride in their Quiteño culture, and parents support the initiative of Colegio Menor to commemorate this special date.  Our school’s band also boosts the festivities by playing traditional songs while our students dance along.

This year not only were students and teachers immersed in the traditions and life of colonial times in Quito, but also their parents.  Their valuable involvement in the different activities made this celebration a roaring success.  Parents prepared different plays, games, and traditional food from Quito’s rich history for students to enjoy. There was an atmosphere of camaraderie and friendship combined with great sharing and learning.


Parents explaining about the colonial times in Quito

Parents from first and second grades prepared plays of the different legends of Quito. They set up stages in the classrooms for their performances, so students could rotate from one classroom to another attending the different dramatizations.  One of the legends students learned about is the legend of Cantuña that tells the story of a man who had only one night to finish building the San Francisco Church or his soul would be condemned to the devil. Another legend is The Cathedral Rooster that explains how a rich man stopped bothering the rooster when this statue came alive and scared him.   Students were surprised to learn from parents that The 1028 House legend explains the story of a bull that fell in love with a girl.

Third and fourth grade parents taught their children different games that were played long ago in Quito.  They showed them how to make the button-on-a-string toy buzz and whirl by winding the cord and pulling it to life.  They also taught their children how to play Cat´s Cradle, showing them how to pass the string back and forth to make figures. They also played hopscotch and different versions of jump rope.

Who could have imagined the fifth and sixth grades parents disguised as our ancestors and explaining Quito´s history? They surprised everyone with amazing costumes representing different times in the history of Quito. They shared their knowledge about the Pre-Hispanic, colonial, republican, and modern periods in our city’s history. After their presentations, students and teachers sampled different kinds of food served during those historic periods.  They tried the traditional locro (potato soup), pristiños (fried bread with syrup), figs with cheese, delicious sweets, and even fried beetles!  Beetles were eaten in the Pre-Hispanic period, and students as well as teachers tried them with apprehension at first, but later they found themselves enjoying them and convincing others to try at least one!

At the end of the day students and staff picked up their things to go home. Some were laughing, remembering what happened that morning and some were commenting about the great things learned and experienced.  Celebrating the foundation of our city has become not only a tradition in our school, but also a great learning experience.  ¡Que Viva Quito!


Catzos and tostado (fried beetles with toasted corn)


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