Sunday, February 7, 2010

New Year's Eve

We were back in the village for New Year’s Eve, and one of the families that have adopted us invited us to celebrate New Year’s Eve with them. The tradition in Ecuador is that each family builds a Viejo, a mannequin that represents the Old Year. Sometime these are personifications of actual people (someone the family has had bad dealings with), but mostly it’s just a general representation of the Old Year. Most are men, but there were also Bart Simpsons and even Sid, from Ice Age. At midnight the families drag their Viejos out into the street and set them on fire, burning away all the bad of the Old Year and bringing good luck in the New Year (at least that’s the hope; one friend remarked to me that they’d needed to burn more than one Viejo to bring them any luck).

Here’s the Viejo of our friends, before and after the burning. This was one of the more elaborate presentations that we saw in the village. Our friend dedicated it to his new son in-law and his first grandchild, which will be born in May.

It was quite a site, seeing spots of fire all up and down the road in the village. There were about two dozen in all, so not every house had one, but generally each extended family prepared a Viejo. The site of the burning bodies was a bit disturbing to us, and Baby Girl had a few restless nights afterwards, but I don’t know if that was connected. Many of the Viejos had little fireworks hidden inside them, and people were setting off bottle rockets. Each time one went off BG would point up into the sky and shout “BOOM”. I think that was the highlight of her night.

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