On New Year’s Eve day we had the good fortune to witness a delightful Ecuadorian New Year’s ritual. The Ecuadorians make effigies (sawdust-stuffed life-size dolls) that represent all the bad things about the old year (año viejo) — personal, social, or political. They are then placed by the roadside. Then kids dress up as the widows of the años viejos. They put a string across the road so you have to stop and they ask us for money to help pay for the funeral (actually, the New Year’s Eve party). But to earn our donation they first have to perform a short but lively dance!
At midnight they beat the effigies, then burn them, to get rid of all the hardships the old year has caused. Parties go on all night. Fabulous custom!
Lori and I thought so much of this custom that we decided to burn our own “effigies.” On separate sheets of paper we each wrote out a list of things we were banishing out of our lives along with the old year. Then, we threw them into our fireplace where they were quickly consumed by the flames of our New Year’s Eve fire.