There are some really fun and interesting New Years Traditions in Ecuador that I just love! About this time of year, you see small, medium, large, very large and huge colorful paper mache figures lining the road. They are called “Monigotes” and the Tradition is that you choose one that really fits you and your personality and, most importantly, your “Old Year”or “El Año Viejo” that is passing.
I chose a one eyed cyclops, who is (I think?) also a cartoon figure from the movie Monsters Inc.
For me, this Monster is symbolic of what I want to leave behind: Fears, Worries, Scary Stuff.
I have named him, “Junior.” He is also symbolic of the year I want to have in 2014, even though I think, technically, that this wish of mine violates #1 of the Ecuadorian New Year’s Traditions Rule Book. There is a saying somewhere that goes something like this: “If your Eye be Single, your body will be full of Light.” Well what better symbol of a singular eye for that new year FULL of light than a one eyed cyclops?
The Monigotes Tradition here is that you are supposed to hang out with your Monigote figure for about a week before New Years. Some people attach them to the roof’s and grilles of their cars as in the photo at the beginning of this blog. Some, like mine, get attached to the balcony railing:
Next, you punch a hole somewhere in your Monigote. For that week, you write down on pieces of paper EVERYTHING you wish to leave behind from The Old Year, “El Año Viejo” and insert these papers into your Monigote. When you fill your Monigote up with everything negative thing from the year passing that you can think of, you can add a firecracker or a cherry bomb for extra bang. Some people who want money in the new year will add a few coins to theirs too. In any event, I understand the Monigotes explosions are quite impressive to see.
Everyone here builds a huge bonfire in the street or on the beach close to midnight on the last day of the year. Just before midnight, you throw your Monigote on the fire. As the fire and all the Monigotes burn, some people even jump over their fires and it’s one huge party on the beach or in the street. I understand some people even kick their Monigote around a bit before they throw their Monigote on that fire too. Might as well give ALL your anger, frustrations and disappointments a swift kick in the butt before you leave them behind forever!
Some other things you will see along the side of the road right now are people selling yellow and red underwear. It is said here that if you wear yellow underwear on New Years you will have very “Good Luck” (“Buenas Suerte”) and if you wear red underwear, you will meet your “True Love” or “Find Romance.”
Another thing people do here for “Good Luck” (“Buenas Suerte”) and “Sweetness” (Dulce”) in the New Year” is to eat 12 grapes just before midnight. At 11:57, you will also see people also running around their homes or buildings carrying a suitcase! This tradition is for people who want to travel in the New Year.
I love all these wonderful New Years Traditions here in Ecuador! And yes, just before Junior hits the fire, I shall be giving him one giant kick in the butt. It’s time for “El Año Viejo” 2013 to be DONE and for my New Year, “El Año Nuevo” of 2014 to begin with a totally clean slate!
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WORDS TO THRIVE BY FOR WORLD TRAVELERS: FOOTPRINTS IN ECUADOR by Mary Anne Dorward
- More info on the New Year’s tradition of burning the dummies… (paintermartens.wordpress.com)
- Top Ten New Year’s Eve Traditions (americanlivewire.com)
- That’s It, We’re Moving To Ecuador (sportsgrid.com)
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