This holidays, I had the chance to travel back to my home country: Ecuador. Even though it is one of the smallest countries in South America, Ecuador is big on culture and traditions. New Year’s Eve, for instance, is a day in which several of our customs shine through, one of the main ones being ‘La viuda y el viejo’ (The widow and the dummy).
This tradition dates back to more than a hundred years and consists of burning a dummy doll made out of paper and cardboard at midnight. Sometimes, the doll might even be filled with fireworks. The head of the doll usually wears a mask with the face of a disliked public figure, politician or celebrity, which can be purchased on New Year’s Eve on the markets located all across the country. This ritual symbolizes purification as it is done to push away bad luck and the negative vibes from the previous year. Furthermore, in most families it is also important to jump over the burning doll three times in order to “get over” this negative energy and have a fresh start for the new year.
The comical side of this tradition comes with the widows, representing the sorrowing wives of the burning dolls. Mockingly, men of all ages dress up as women in tight dresses and heavy makeup and hit the streets in the lookout for a new husband. They dance and flirt with drivers all afternoon. In exchange, they receive a couple of dollars which are later spent on beer or hard liquor, which gives a big kick-start to the parties.
New Year’s Eve in Ecuador is definitely something one has to experience for themselves. The whole day is a big celebration full of joy and positive vibes that bids a cheerful farewell to the year and ends with the lively parties at night to welcome the upcoming one.
Photo’s: Andrea Rossignoli / Final Editor: Kyle Hassing