(This post was written in 2012, and the additions written in blue are from December 31, 2016: The small mustard-colored house in the photo above is the only building that remains after the April 16th earthquake. The ‘people’ in the photos are my friends!)
Some people get all dressed up to welcome the new year!
My all-time favorite holiday in Ecuador is not New Year’s Eve itself, but the preparation for New Year’s Eve, when people make or buy the papier mache ‘Los Anos Viejos’ and display them proudly outside their home or business. Richard, one of the staff members of the Portoviejo Museum, starts making Ano Viejos in August and sells them at the end of each year. A few weeks ago I visited Richard’s home and received a sneak peek of his army of creations!
(I do not know if the Portoviejo Museum received extensive damage or not; the Bahia de Caraquez Museum will be demolished, and a new one will be built on another site.)
Let’s go see his workshop!
Let’s go see what the creative people of Jama created last year! (The first house below has been demolished. I am not sure on all of the rest, but many are gone as well…There is a pair of crutches in one photo; that building is gone, and someone told me that the ‘old man’ died. ) Many people stuff firecrackers in their creations, so when they are burned at midnight, there’s a little extra drama! I always stop to visit my friends Chana and Arturo, who own a little corner store in town. Chana shrugged when I asked to see her Ano Viejo. She seemed to think she was unable to create one by herself. With a smile, I retorted, “Well, LET’S MAKE ONE!” “With what?” she replied. Here’s what we whipped up in an hour’s time! (She, by the way, had a great time and insisted on creating its hat!)
On last year’s post, Los Anos Viejos, Fran from Spain commented about his New Year’s Eve traditions; he said, “ When in Spain, our main tradition is to have 12 grapes before it turns into midnight. If you want to start the year with happiness and you want luck, be with you, you have several requirements to fulfill: First you have to be with your right foot on the floor (the left one on the air), Second, you have to wear red underwear, and Third last but not least, eat those twelve grapes at the right time. Like this:” (He gives a link to a video!)
(The photos above show a New Year’s Eve celebration in nearby La Division. Although it is a very petite community, many of those homes/second homes collapsed. No one was injured, gracias a-Dios.)
In addition to the ano viejo effigies, another tradition in Ecuador is for the men to dress as a widow mourning her old man/old year. They stand at the street corners and ask people for money, a token amount, which probably is spent later on cervesas! A token quarter or dime pleases them!
Why not add a few new items to your new year’s traditions? Buy some red underwear and a cluster of grapes! Create a token ano viejo and be prepared to balance on one foot or leap over the burning effigy! Do you have any special new year’s traditions? Happy New Year! Lisa/Z
(Updated Dec. 31 2016)