Años Viejos: Torching the Old Year to Toast the New One


“The concept of años viejos comes from European influence,” Professor Gonzales stated, including that in contrast to European cultures, which expertise time with a starting and an finish, Andean cultures conceive of time as “continuous.”

But rituals to expel epidemics or illnesses are prehistoric and Indigenous, Professor Gonzales stated.

María Belén Calvache, a specialist in politics and traditions in Ecuador, stated in an interview that “there are historical records in Ecuador that show that Indigenous populations, specifically the people from Otavalo, would burn a doll symbolizing a feudal leader during the celebration of the solstice in December, March and June.”

She added, “They were burned as a symbol of regeneration.”

The first años viejos as we all know them as we speak had been burned alongside the Andean sierra in main Ecuadorean cities like Quito and Guayaquil in the nineteenth century, historians defined. The burnings had been the climax of a 10-day Catholic celebration marking the finish of the 12 months, operating from Dec. 28, the Day of the Innocents, to Three Kings Day, on Jan. 6.

During these days, individuals wore masks and costumes on the streets. On Dec. 31, giant rag dolls representing drunken previous males had been carried by means of the streets by masked individuals wearing white to signify their weeping widows, Ms. Calvache defined. Because the drunks didn’t depart wills, the widows would roam about asking for cash. At midnight, the rag doll can be burned, “and a humorous testament where different things are left to the mourners is read,” Ms. Calvache added. Those issues had been often satirical omens or needs for prosperity.

“For a fundamentally working-class society, end-of-the-year celebrations were an opportunity to forget about sorrows through parties,” stated Alfonso Ortiz Crespo, a historian and architect from Ecuador. “It was a time to make fun of the other — not only civil authority, but also make fun of the neighbor, the friend and the relative, or the political enemy.”