Por su expresión de devoción, su costo, su complejidad, y su duración, Navidad es la fiesta principal de los Saraguros. La fiesta está patrocinado por parejas casadas-- marcantaita y marcanmama --las cuales están encargados con la gran tarea de organizarla. Para detalles sobre la celebración de Navidad en Saraguro vease Luis Aurelio Chalán (1994) o Nan Volinsky (1998) en la bibliografía de este website.

    For its expression of devotion, its cost, its complexity and its duration, Christmas is the most important religious celebration of the Saraguros.
    Its public aspects--masses, feasts, processions, dances and other performances by costumed personages, fireworks, etc.--take place from just before Christmas day (December 25) until the day after Tres Reyes (Epiphany--January 6).
    In its private, formal aspects it last for more than a year, beginning with the selection of sponsors and, in the last couple of months, proceeding with intensive preparations not only by the sponsors, but, among others, by musicians (a violinist and a drummer) and by a group of boys and girls (cari sarahuis and huarmi sarahuis) and of young men (huiquis and ajas) who, under the direction of the musicians, train almost daily for their performances.
    There are a number of special images of the Christ child--El Niño--in the Saraguro communities. Each Niño will have its own set of co-equal sponsors, the marcanmama and the marcantaita, who are a wife and husband. (In other Saraguro religious fiestas, wives and husbands independently, and never at the same time for the same fiesta [in the formal sense] act as sponsors.)
    Each set of sponsors must make use of a wide variety of their own resources (money, time, cattle for slaughter, grains and other food), and the resources (time, skills and special gifts of food and other items such as the castillos pictured below) of people in their obligation networks (relatives, compadres, godchildren, friends, neighbors) and others, in order to put on a successful celebration.
    Clearly, putting together a Christmas fiesta in Saraguro is a highly complex and impressive organizational feat. The pictures presented here provide only a hint of what Christmas is in Saraguro. For more details see Luis Aurelio Chalán (1994) or Nan Volinsky (1998) listed in this website's bibliography.

Christmas procession        Gigantes in town
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Procession in town        Dance of the huarmi sarahuis and cari sarahuis
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Ajas in the street     Christ-child image     Castillos
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León and pailero          Castillos
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Huiquis         Oso and Huiquis
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Top right illustration by Luis Antonio Lozano Quizhpe from
L. & J. Belote, compilers, Quito, Abya Yala, 1994.

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