Once again our friend, Nancy Levin, beat us to the punch reporting about New Year’s Eve here in San Clemente, Ecuador in her blog. It was not a fair race in that our internet was down for five days, but her account details most of what we would have written, so I will refer you to her post at: http://nanlevin.wordpress.com/2013/01/01/new-years-eve-san-clemente-style/ for details about the celebration downtown.
In this post I thought I would show you some of the effigies that are such a big part of New Year’s celebrations here.
Last year when Mary and I were so new to Ecuador we were fascinated by all of the unusual paper mache figures we saw for sale all around Portoviejo. Some of the traffic circles there were filled with vendors selling all kinds of cartoon characters and realistic people. Others were just selling the paper mache heads. We asked about them and learned that the figures are displayed and then burned on New Year’s eve.
We have heard many explanations about why the figures are burned, but the one most often given is that the owner imagines all of the bad things that happened in his or her life the last year and then burns the figure to symbolically get rid of all of the bad and begin the new year without that baggage. Indeed some of the figures represent a bad habit or something the owners want to give up or leave behind.
I heard from one friend that the practise actually started when the bubonic plague was rampant in Europe and here in South America. At night the bodies and all of the bed linen and clothes of those who had died from the plague were burned in the street to get rid of the bad and stem the advance of the plague.
Whatever the origin or purpose, here in San Clemente and San Jacinto many of the effigies are made and burned for fun, often resembling a friend or family member who enjoys a laugh with his tormentors as he is burned in effigy!
I saw these two at a fishing alcove poking fun at two of the local fishermen.
And our friend Pinoche made this one to poke fun at his brother, Pocho.
Some get very creative in their design and are very proud of their creations. This young man-made his family’s effigies and posed for this picture with me.
I spent about an hour driving around San Clemente and San Jacinto on the 31st getting pictures of effigies in front of stores, strapped to the hood of cars, and mounted on the sides of buildings and homes. Here are a few of my favorites.
Some of these are life-sized and others are huge! These next two pictures show a fantastic spiderman on the sided of an apartment building in San Jacinto. This spiderman is about ten feet tall and looks like a real Hollywood production model!
Some of these are so well done that it seems a shame to burn them. Although they are now all gone, you can be sure that everyone is already planning the bigger and better effigies that will be created next New Year’s Eve.
Life is good in Ecuador.