Año Viejo

An interesting Ecuadorian festival! How Ecuadorians celebrate the last day of the year:

Año Viejo literally means “Old Year”. On the last day of the year (31st Dec), every household (almost) make dolls out of paper, woodshavings and old clothes. They put a mask or draw a face on the doll, usually a famous character such as a politician or cartoon character, or someone they díslike, or someone in the family (hehehe.. like an affectionate joke…).. This doll is meant to signify the “old year” – the year that is going to pass. The day is usually spent with family members and at midnight, kerosene or some combustible liquid is poured on the Año Viejo and they burn the Año Viejo, signifying the passing of the old year, old regrets, bad happenings, unhappy memories… and welcome the New Year with hope. You can see año viejos all over, shops have them, sometimes some people just leave them along the streets as display (we saw año viejos of Fantastic 4!), some are for sale, some cars and buses also tie them to the front of the car!

One of the members in our church told me that they “burnt away their father” last year, and even made a will for “him”. It’s an affectionate gesture actually… haha.. the will shows how well they know each other. For example, “He leaves behind a washing machine for his daughter, X, so that she may take good care of the family.” or “He leaves behind a needle for grand-daughter, Y, so that she may not need to wear torn jeans, even if for fashion’s sake, anymore….”

In Quito, they hold a competition or showcase of Año Viejos at the street Amazonas, leading to Colon. They set up stages to display huge dolls or rather models. Some are politicians, some are campaigning or trying to speak a message. 😉 Tim, Katty and I went to take a look around 11.30pm, thinking they were going to burn the dolls at midnight.. but when we arrived, the party was all over.. haha.. so we only saw a few dolls, lots of trash, and some pple dancing away or playing with fireworks. Oh well.. next year!

On the streets during the day, you can see men dressed up as women. In smaller towns, they dress up as widows, wearing black. This is because the “old year” is personified as a man, so as the old year passes, ‘he’ leaves behind his wife, now a widow. These men disguised as widows stop people and cars to ask for money or some blessing on the streets. The ones we see in Quito however, don’t look like sad widows to me.. haha.. they look more like they are having fun dressing up as women and dancing on the streets, stopping cars that come along. The driver of the taxi we took that day had a packet of sweets with him to give to the ‘widows’. Clever idea.. so he doesn’t need to give money.. hehe.. Some drivers even stop to chat with the ‘women’!

Very interesting way of celebrating ‘new-old’ year.. hehe.. 🙂

Pictorial story:



  1. Nice night!! thanks Phoebe and Tim for spent time whit me and adopt me for “Año Viejo”
    I enjoined of your company…Your are an excellent friends!! 🙂

  2. Thanks Katty for spending our first Ecuadorian NEw Year’s Eve with us! 🙂 Though we saw more ‘basura’ than año viejos.. haha..it was a good time, sharing our new year wishes. Thanks for being a great friend who cares!

  3. I didn’t get to watch the ano viejos burn when I was there, but everyone had fun telling us about them. They were all so excited to light them on fire. As a joke, one of the members of my church made one of the bishop. It was really funny 🙂

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