It is already December 31st, and people start preparing for the new year. In Ecuador it involves a lot of traditions and customs. Ecuadorian New Year’s Eve is a time to get rid of last year’s failures, regrets and anger. It is a time to bring up new hopes and resolutions. In many places, New Year’s Eve is a time of party, champagne toasts and good wishes, but in Ecuador it is so much more…
El “Año Viejo” – The Old Year
The old year is represented by a paper stuffed doll which imitates a disliked celebrity, political figure, notable people, or even a terrible event from the last year. A note explaining why it should be burned and what changes and improvements are expected from the new year, is pinned to the doll. These dolls are spread all over the city and they range from simple puppets to more artistic crafted dolls. And then, at midnight, people light the dolls on fire while having a glass of champagne. The symbolic meaning of this ritual is to forget all that went wrong with the past year and hope that the new year will bring better things.
Las “Viudas” – The Widows
Men dress like women to become the widows of the “Año Viejo”. They are called widows because their husbands are the dolls burned at midnight. On December 31st, the “Viudas” block the streets and dance around to beg for beer money. If you are driving, you should bring a lot of coins to being able to pass the road-blocks.
El Testamento – “The Old Year Will”
During or even after burning the doll, someone starts reading a funny and poem-liked will. The will states what the old year leaves to his relatives or friends. It is something symbolic and funny to remember the best moments of the passing year.
When the clock hits midnight, people eat 12 grapes. Each grape represents a month in the new year. People have to make a wish for every month and every grape they eat.
An other tradition is to wear colored underwear, and each color represents something different. If the person wears yellow colored underwear, the new year will bring prosperity and money. If they wear red underwear, the coming year will bring love.
Run with a suitcase around the block
If you love to travel and want to do it in the coming year, then this superstition is for you. At midnight you should take a suitcase and run with it all around the block.