New Year’s Celebrations

I’ve had some request to talk about Christmas traditions here in Ecuador. However, I’ve found that although it is a very Catholic culture, they don’t do much for Christmas. In the States, we get something like a week off of work/school for it but here, we had Christmas day off and that was it. We do set up this thing in every household called beling. I remembered this word right away because it sounds almost like “bling” and it’s shiny enough to remind me of that. It’s a nativity scene, and more. I say and more because they have no reserves gluing whatever plastic animals they happen to have around baby Jesus. I’m pretty sure there were no lions where Jesus was born but my little brother, Mateo, sure did have a fun time gluing them down. There’s not much more for traditions. They celebrate more on Christmas Eve than Christmas day. On the Eve, we went to a misa, or church service and had a big diner. There weren’t any different foods, though. On Christmas day, I was actually travelling the 6 hour trip back to Pimampiro from Quito, where my family went for the holidays.

I thought everyone might want to hear more about the New Year’s traditions, as those are more interesting in my opinion.

One tradition is to wear yellow underwear for the new year’s. It’s supposedly good luck. I’m not sure if it’s luck of a certain kind. I didn’t find out about this one until too late that night. I was wearing orange, which I figured was close enough.

You’re supposed to eat 12 grapes for the new year’s. Another luck thing.

A really interesting one is the ano Viejo. It’s probably the most different from the States. What they do is they make a man-doll type thing using old clothes stuff with whatever and masks that are sold everywhere. Sometimes people make them into politicians, celebrities, someone they know, what have you. And when the clock strikes 12, they burn them all in the streets. There are two ways it’s looked at, depending where you go to experience the tradition. The overall idea is to rid the evil of the last year. Whatever bad mojo happened last year, you’re burning it. Some people make ano viejos of people they don’t like, like politicians and burning them is like burning the evil. However, some people make one of someone who’s had trouble in the last year or might need help and to burn them is like riding them of everything bad that happened, and hopefully giving them a fresh start.

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