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New Year's Eve

A New Year's Eve, or Año Viejo, spent in Ecuador provides a fascinating insight into local culture and folklore. During the week or so preceding the day itself, you will see effigies for sale in the streets, made from wood, paper, cloth and firecrackers. These effigies will usually represent international political figures that are hated, locally despised politicians, or icons from popular music or culture, from the old year. These figures are dressed up in the family's clothing and with masks of the personalities they seek to depict. They are then burned on New Year's Eve to banish the bad and welcome in the new.

In Quito, Avenida Amazonas is the place to head early in the evening to check out the stalls and the open-air entertainment. Themed effigy displays line the road along with live music and street food. You may see effigies being burned here and you will certainly see fireworks. Outside of Quito, the coastal town of Salinas is a popular Ecuadorian New Year's Eve haunt. In the countryside, many people light fires in the street, upon which they burn the effigies. This happens in Quito too, but more frequently in the suburbs.

Similar to Halloween in the States, New Year's Eve is a day when children and adults alike dress up in costumes, wigs and masks. Throughout the country, a popular pursuit is for men to dress up as women—the viudas alegres, or merry widows —and beg for money. Also, outside of the main cities, especially on roads to the smaller countryside towns, you may come across children holding string across the roads. They are trying to stop the traffic with the aim of relieving you of your small change.

Midnight tends to be a family affair, indulging in a meal served at home with relatives. A local tradition is to eat twelve grapes (uvas) at the stroke of midnight, which is supposed to bring luck throughout the year. The streets become ablaze with little fires as each family burns its own effigy. After dinner, younger people head off to clubs or parties to see in the New Year with style.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Ecuador: Good Friday, Holidays and Fiestas, The Day of the Dead in Ecuador, Fiesta de la Mama Negra, Carnaval , Ceremonia de Reseña o Vísperas and Fiestas de Quito.

By Paula Newton
I am V!VA's operations expert. With an MBA and a background in the Interactive Television industry in the U.K. I am the organizing force behind the...
10 Sep 2012

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