Batalla de PinchinchaIn Canada, May 24th weekend (referred to as May 2- 4), brings up visions of lakes, cottages, s'mores and a 24 pack of beer by a campfire! Memorial day in the US is celebrated differently, but at the end of the day...we all get a long weekend!Like in any country, Ecuador celebrates several national holidays. Many people are simply excited to have a day off work and school but of course, behind every nationally-proclaimed holiday, there is history! On May 24th, La Batalla de Pichincha ("The Battle of Pinchincha") is celebrated all across Ecuador in a variety of ways. The last battle of independence for Ecuador took place during the Spanish colonial period in 1822 and is a period studied in detail within the Ecuadorian school system. Of all outrageous locations for a historical fight to take place, this particular battle took place on the Pichincha volcano (hence, the name of the holiday). This important battle, at 3500 meters above sea level, is commemorated every year on the anniversary of the day the original war was fought: May 24th.Currently, school aged students celebrate this historical event with small parades in towns and villages, honoring their country's history and taking pride in all that is Ecuador. Often in larger Ecuadorian cities, parades are performed by the military and enjoyed by tourists, visitors, and locals alike. On Pichincha itself there are some activities for people to partake in and watch, such as the air force flying above. In Galapagos, the local school kids generally have a small parade down Calle Baltra (the main street that runs North-South) and along Charles Darwin Avenue through Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz Island) and past the Navy base. Students dress in school uniforms and the student with the highest grades in his or her class has the privilege of carrying the Ecuadorian flag through the community, leading the class in the parade. If you are visiting Ecuador or the Galapagos Islands on this important historical day, try and find time to stop and enjoy the local events - it may not be the most fascinating of Ecuadorian holidays, but it definitely conveys a true sense of what it means to be Ecuadorian and the pride people take in their country. The celebration of the Battle of Pinchincha is a day of national pride and of Ecuadorian patriotism. It demonstrates a strong sense of the people, their history, and their culture.
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