Año Viejo/Año Nuevo


One of my favorite Ecuadorian traditions is called Año Viejo as a way of saying good-bye to the old year. Families create effigies or dolls (muñecos) that represent a family member, famous person, or a character, and then burn it at midnight to let go of the previous year. They can be made of old clothes, wood, paper maché, cardboard, and stuffed with sawdust, paper, dried leaves, and fireworks.

I know that this happens in other Latin American countries like Colombia, where a piece of each family member’s clothing is used to create the mannequin, but this is the first time I have actually made one. There are various legends as to how this tradition was started way back in the 1700s or 1800s (although several sources agree that it started in Ecuador) from burning bodies after a yellow fever epidemic to melding Ecuadorian and Spanish traditions around the Feast of St. Joseph.

Muñeco Contest

However it started, I am already looking forward to making a larger, more complicated muñeco next year and possibly participating in Palmar’s own contest for the best one. Besides bragging rights, first prize earns $150 and many entrants spend months working on their contributions. The images above are from the local contest, run by our friend **Luis** and his uncle **Xavier**, who is Vice President of our town. My in-laws, **Steve** and **Susie** had a lot of fun clapping and cheering for our favorite muñeco that ended up earning second place.

Cuenca and Guayaquil Munecos

When we were visiting Cuenca over the holidays, we saw a bunch of stuffed dolls awaiting their special moment on a balcony near where we were staying. The above right image was taken by our friend and fellow PCV **Cherith** in Guayaquil where the muñecos are larger than life!

Neo Muñecos

The folks at Fundación Neo Juventud make dolls every year. Above, **Braulio** poses next to his twin and **Marcelo** works on his 2012 creation.

Palmar Muñecos

Above are two more examples of dolls from around Palmar. I still regret not taking a photo of the enormous dog outside of our Vet’s office or of the horizontal soccer player scoring a goal bicycle style (kicking the ball backwards over his own head) but I’ll be more prepared next year. All that remains now of these works of art are the photos, reminding us of how temporary and fleeting, yet precious, our time here is.

Stay tuned tomorrow for images of our very own Max muñeco.

Feliz Año Nuevo!


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6 responses to “Año Viejo/Año Nuevo”

  1. Playamart - Zeebra Designs says :

    hey from manabi/jama! i’m so glad that kris sent us here! great post, and i look forward to reading more!

  2. Playamart - Zeebra Designs says :

    i love manabi! the new year kicked off our rainy season, and we’ve had soft gentle rains almost every day for the past week! the landscape is about to transform!

  3. Clare's mom says :

    Hi Mari & Paul,

    We were so glad to meet you (and Susie & Steve) in Cuenca this Christmas!

    I’m enjoying my Mujeres Cambia jewelry that Clare gave me for Christmas. Please pass my thanks on to Betsy for the colorful bracelet of big beads and to Elba for the lovely necklace–three strands of dark purple/brown beads. I wear them both frequently!

    Best for 2013!

    • Mari says :

      We were so happy to meet you and Bruce, too! Hope you had an incredible trip. We´re so happy that you´re enjoying your Mujeres Cambia jewelry – I will be sure to pass along the nice compliments. Take care, Mari

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