In Ecuador, New Years is even bigger than Christmas. People party all day and all night, have a huge dinner and most importantly when the clock strikes midnight, they ALL participate in burning the Año Viejo. Now, what on earth is an Año Viejo you might be wondering? Think of a paper mache type pinata or a strange looking stuffed doll with hay. They come in all different sizes and types including cartoon characters, famous political people or athlete that range from small to bigger than life size. Strange right? Now imagine every family in your city out in the street burning these things at exactly midnight. At first glance this is SUCH a strange tradition- why on earth are all these people burning a Ninja Turtle the size of the toddler exactly at midnight? It wasn't until I really learned more about this tradition that I really started to get excited to celebrate this at midnight.
Each person has their own reason for burning the Año Viejo but most of the time it is to signify that one can let go of the year past on focus on the year ahead. It is a gracious way to give the middle finger to the past year and get rid of all the bad things possibly experienced. Now what about the people who had a good year? Well that is the interesting thing about fire; fire is also used to celebrate new life and love among other things. So while others are cursing the year past, others will be jumping and rejoicing in their prosperous year.
It wasn't until we were driving home that night that the burning ritual had such a profound effect on me. We left the party we were at a few minutes after midnight and while I was riding in the tuck bed I saw hundreds of flames and ashes in the streets from the burning of the Año Viejos. I had an overwhelming feeling at that moment about how immense this one tradition was for each person. I didn't know each person's year past and I will never know but every person that night was burning something different and was cleansing a part of their soul for the new year ahead of them. I was then jealous that I had never done something like this before; what a symbolic and freeing feeling to be able to begin the new year with.
All of this thinking really made me stop and look back at all of my New Years to see if I had ever really experienced something like that. This is when I realized that the month of January has actually (as of the past 5 years) always been a month of change and excitement for me. Every January since I have been in college, I have had a life changing event happen in this strange month 1 of 12. I realized that in the Januarys past, I have visited and lived in new countries, I decided to get married and picked up and moved to new states. I have always been very lucky during this month and now understand why I always seem to be restless during this time of year.
The energy I am already getting from 2016 makes me think Ronald and I will be in for some life shaking, adventurous times- so I say, LET'S DO IT!
Also- This is my first blog in a while.. take it easy on yo girl. (please forgive any mistakes)