Some funny traditions

Today I thought I’d share a little about some of the New Year’s Eve traditions in my country… I’m sure they’ll bring a laugh or two.

The New Year celebration in Ecuador is just as much about the Old Year as about the New Year. Dolls known as “monigotes”  are made of old clothes stuffed with newspaper and represent the “Año Viejo” or Old Year. Traditionally families make their own dolls, but they can also be purchased quite cheaply from street vendors.

A “testamento” or will is written, with a list of problems, disappointments, or difficulties experienced over the last year, as well as “wishes” for good things to happen in the new year. This will is placed inside the doll and burned with it at midnight. The idea is to leave all negativity behind, in the old year, and start afresh during this new year. Customarily once the doll is burning people jump over the fire. Once again, this is to symbolize leaving the old behind and jumping into the new.

Since this is the first time we have spent New Year’s Eve with Alexia and Julian, the talk got around to some of these traditions, and the kids got excited about doing some of them. We did get them a few fireworks to add to all the others being set off up and down the neighborhood. We live in a quiet, residential neighborhood, so it was quite a sight for us to see so many people out on the street celebrating. Talk about a lot of banging and lighting up of the skies!

Some of the quirkiest traditions have to do with people’s beliefs and superstitions – what is known here as “cábalas.” I’m not sure how that would be translated exactly, but the idea is to do certain things to ensure good luck and prosperity in the new year. One of the most popular cábalas consists in wearing new yellow underwear to bring luck in the New Year. We decided we considered ours a pretty “lucky” family, and agreed we could skip that tradition. But the kids did pull out suitcases, and at midnight joined other neighbors in a walk around the block… this is to attract travels in the new year. And oh, yes… while we did that we each had to eat twelve grapes (one for each month of the year), making a wish with each grape that we ate. We were laughing so hard I think we all forgot to make wishes.

In the end, we had a lot of wholesome, silly fun. And I guess one of the things that I like the most about the New Year’s celebration here is that it is definitely family oriented… even when people party, it is as a family. I must say I sure enjoyed it with my little family. 🙂

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  1. Carol Yonts
    Posted January 1, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    How wonderful. I like these traditions better than most in the US. Thank you for sharing. You always have some of the neatest things to share!

  2. Posted January 1, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    Wow, that is so cool. I never really thought about New Years Eve traditions in other countries. Thanks so much for sharing. I’m glad your family had fun with it.

  3. Irene
    Posted January 7, 2012 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

    Nuevamente, me agrada leer tus notas y ver que las costumbres en casi toda latinoamérica son similares. En Guatemala también acostumbramos los fuegos artificiales a las 12:pm, tanto en Año Nuevo como en Navidad. El usar ropa nueva amarilla se acostumbra más para atraer el DINERO que la suerte, yo siempre olvido usarla, quizá por eso es que siempre me falta el dinero, jajajaja… y también recorrer la calle con maletas para que haya viajes en el próximo año. Yo no paso de comerme las doce uvas, y tampoco recuerdo pedir deseos, concentrada sólo en abrazar a los míos y desearles muy feliz año. Así que aquí te envío tu abrazo cariñoso, y mis mejores deseos!