Last weekend, we were invited to a first communion ceremony and the party hosted by the parents after the ceremony.
Recently we were invited by an Ecuadorian friend to his 13 year old son’s First Communion. I knew this was a milestone in the Roman Catholic religion but not being a Catholic, perhaps didn’t realize just what an important event this was. Come spend a Saturday with us, they said.
We met at the church at 11:30 for the actual Communion….for a Protestant the churches here are glorious…enormous amounts of gold and gilt, masses of flowers, lots of pomp and circumstance, which I happen to love. The inside of these cathedrals are awe inspiring and give me the feeling of being very small but a significant part of something surreal and wonderful.
After the mass, pictures galore! The son with his aunts and uncles…the son with his parents…the son with the priest…..the son with us!…wait! why should we be included in these family memories? It was this type of warmth and inclusion–making us feel that we were being an important part of the celebration—that continued for the remainder of the day.
Onward to the parents’ home to celebrate this joyous occasion! Same cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, sisters, brothers, all in attendance….about 50 or so family and close friends…and us.
Past the wonderful, lush courtyard into the house….
but not into the kitchen! Back home, in the South, everyone congregates in the kitchen and to feed 5o people, everyone will pitch in to help. Not so in Ecuador. You are an invited guest; this equates you to do nothing but enjoy.
Entering the courtyard at the house for the festivities.
The party was held in a central, large family room much like a US den or great room and all the furniture is pushed back against the wall, leaving the center completely bare. We were seated just inside the door to the right. Now as these aunts, uncles, etc begin to arrive at the home; every newcomer goes to every person and hugs, kisses and handshakes abound. I do not know these people at all!…it does not matter. Every man, woman and child goes to everyon ealready there and repeats the hugs and greetings How many boring cocktail parties or other events have you ever gone to where you didn’t know a soul and often felt soooo out of place? Not so in Ecuador!
Cookies and delicacies are passed on a tray to each person; followed by someone passing napkins; followed by a delicious punch. Main course soon arrives; again this is passed around, and your plate is totally loaded with food. There was pork with a velvet sauce, roasted lamb, salad, beans and the traditional rice; portions were huge! Again, silverware, napkins are brought to you; after eating, each time something is brought to you; other people came to remove dishes, napkins, you remain seated.
This is all fantastic but now the fun really starts! Remember the center of the floor is empty?….the music starts and our host and his wife begin the dancing….followed by all in attendance….if you sit on your chair; you’ll be called out to join in!….tiny, 83 year old parents of our host…dancing up a storm and in high heels yet! This goes on for hours while small drinks are passed made of sugar cane and served warm…forget the name; but it’s “blank Lazzo”, I think. Delicious! And would not take many to knock you on your keester! We learned later, this brew had been in the process just for this occasion for three years! (Ann’s note: Aguardiente is a potent national brew and almost tasteless with fruit juice….gotta watch that stuff!)
A 13 year old cuts the celebration cake, portions are passedaround, but with the mere nod of a head and slight hand motion from one of the elders, servers were instructed to bring our cake first.
As people left, the whole hug, kisses and handshakes procedure was repeated to every single person in the room. Even the small children did this by their own will.
We managed to hang in there until about 7pm but that was the end of the energy line for these gringos. The party was still raging and went on, we heard later, until 3 in the morning.
The kindness of spirit displayed not only to us but each unto the other was completely visible. Those of us from the USA could learn so much from this culture! Can you just imagine how much better a Thanksgiving or Christmas could be if we treated our relatives and they treated us in this kind and lovely manner?
Love these people!