28 May Año Viejo – Why You Should Celebrate New Year’s In Ecuador
In Ecuador, New Year’s is not called New Years. It is called Año Viejo (old year.) Año Viejo is celebrated all over Ecuador, but it is slightly different from the coast to the highlands. The celebration starts early 31st of December and lasts until the new year.
Fire up a puppet
Weeks before the Año Viejo, you can buy the Año Viejo puppets that you burn at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Burning the Año Viejo is a symbol of moving on and that you are done with the old year and have a fresh start in the new year. In the highlands, the puppet usually is an imitation of famous people like celebrities, politicians and public figures. On the coast, it is often a puppet of a cartoon from tv-series, movies or generally a famous figure. Sizes vary in the highlands and many people make their own puppet using own clothes and materials and fill it with newspaper.
It is also common to jump over the Año Viejo puppet when it is on fire. That is supposed to mean good luck.
The puppets can be bought around parks and parking areas.
The Año Viejos are usually huge on the coast where they usually display it like a statue.
You can also buy masks to for the Año Viejo puppet.
In Quito and the highlands, it is common to build a hut for the Año Viejo where it can rest before it gets burned at midnight. The makers usually set up quotes and jokes in the hut like ” Give some money to this old man.”
Seeing men dressing up as ‘slutty widows’
Be prepared for the need of lots of coins in your pocket if you are planning on driving in Ecuador on the 31st of December. It is a tradition in Ecuador for men to dress up as slutty widows and beg drivers for money. They will stop your car, drag you out of the car and eventually dance with you until you give them money.
Another tradition is to run around your block with an empty suitcase. That means you will travel a lot in the coming year.
Throughout the whole day and night, in the streets Avenida Amazonas y Colon towards the south you will see installations of large Año Viejos that will burn at midnight. Many people decide to celebrate New Years in these streets.
Next step: What to pack for a trip to Ecuador
Are there any special New Years traditions where you live? Would you celebrate it in Ecuador?