New Years

New Years Eve into 2012; will the world end? is the big question or joke of the day.

Here in Cuenca, on every street corner people are selling dummies of all sizes. They call them año viejos and it is traditional for each family to elect a family member to be burned at the end of the year. Not literally of course but in dummy form.

What happens is that the youth compile a will and testament for the person(s) to be burned.  It is usually filled with jokes and may focus on negative qualities that this person may have, as to bring them to light for change in the new year.  The burning of the año viejos signifies the passing of the old year, bad habits, regrets, unhappy memories etc. and welcomes in the new year with hope and prosperity.

The night is filled with food, booze and festivities.  At midnight everyone goes outside to burn the ano viejos and welcome in the new year.  They light the dummies on fire and create a bonfire in the streets.  Each family jumps over the fire as a passage; leaving the old behind into the new.  If you don’t jump you will have bad luck for the whole year.  After the fire starts to die and the negatives from the past are left behind then the fireworks begin and the night never ends.  All of Cuenca celebrates.

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