Sunday, 1 January 2012

Light the Way

Last year on our blog Lest We Forget we talked about one of the most important Ecuadorian traditions for ringing in the New Year; the making of años viejos ~ effigies.  The burning of these effigies represents a cleansing of all negative happenings or influences over the previous year.  Thus one can enter the New Year with a clean slate and a fresh start. 

Last year we bought an effigy for the first time and ended up naming it Emilio.  Although Emilio's stay with us was quite short, he had a definite impact on our lives.

2011 certainly turned out to be a better year for us than was 2010, however, towards the end of the year certain happenings occurred that we would just have soon missed.  Therefore, we found ourselves quite looking forward to the New Year tradition and putting behind us the grief, upset & annoyance of the old year.

We walked up to the corner where we'd purchased Emilio last year and picked out a small effigy we thought would do the job.  Just as we were leaving we asked if it had a name.  The elderly woman and her daughter/granddaughter (?) both instantly smiled and simultaneously told us "Chavo!  El Chavo del Ocho".   Upon arriving home Wikipedia supplied El Chavo's history to us.

As it turned out, Chavo too had quite an impact on our household.  Fitting right in almost instantly, Chavo was polite, entertaining & self-effacing.  

Again, as with Emilio, we cannot express adequately our gratitude to Chavo for giving up his existence for our well being.

Once it got dark, we ventured out to the street and encountered several of our neighbours.  They were quite pleased that we too were taking part in their traditions.  We were hugged and had our pictures taken jumping over Chavo as he burned our troubles away.   

One of our neighbours asked us what we did in Canada on New Years Eve and we explained there were often fireworks (only shot off of course, by duly authorized fireworks people) but that the burning of an effigy on the street, in parking lots, on the grass by the river, in school playgrounds & store parking lots, would never be allowed in Canada.  

We believe our neighbour somewhat pitied us our rather restrictive New Years traditions and was proud of the freedom of expression here in Ecuador.  

So now we face 2012, cleansed, free of baggage & looking forward to the adventures it will give us!