Posted by: Jena Davison | December 31, 2011

Ecuadorian New Years Traditions

Being in Quito for New Years is a special experience, filled with lots of local traditions and a general feeling of happiness and revelry. Most people spend New Years Eve with their families until midnight, then head out to bars with their friends to celebrate. Some of these traditions carry over to neighboring countries Peru and Colombia as well.

Lots of Masks to Choose From

Each family (and many businesses) typically creates an Año Viejo, which is a monigote (large dummy) dressed in old clothes and a mask that represents the past year. The masks, which are sold at every corner starting a few days before, range from Homer Simpson to disliked politicians. At midnight, everyone burns their Año Viejos to say goodbye to the old year (to literally burn away the bad things from the past year) and welcome in the new. It is truly amazing seeing the streets of Quito lit up in flames, while fireworks also explode in the sky above. Most people  jump over the fires created by the burnt Año Viejos for good luck.

Burning Año Viejo

During New Years Eve day, there are huge monigote scenes set up along Avenida Amazonas, a major drag in Quito’s La Mariscal neighborhood. Companies sponsor these creative themed displays, often playing off pop culture or political issues from the past year, which are worth a look. You’ll see lots of people dressed up in costumes at this crowded event, complete with street food stands and local music.

Effigies on Av. Amazonas

Also, do not be startled if you see lots of cross-dressing this day. One of the strangest New Years traditions here is that teenage boys dress up as the female viudas (widows) of the Año Viejos, accentuating their breast and butt areas with balloons or pillows, and block off the streets asking for money. Due to this, it is very difficult to get around the city, so keep in mind that travel times may take longer than expected.

One of the Many Viudas

Several other traditions take place in Ecuador on New Years Eve to ensure the upcoming year is filled with health, wealth and fulfillment:

1) Ecuadorians wear yellow underwear on New Years Eve and put a dollar bill  under their foot in their left shoe for prosperity in the new year.

Yellow Underwear for Good Luck!

2) It is a tradition for each person to eat 12 grapes, one for each month of the year, starting the minute before midnight. With each grape, you are supposed to make a wish for the upcoming year.

Grapes for Sale on the Street

3) To hope for abundant travel in the upcoming year, Ecuadorians run to the end of the street they live on and loop back to their house.

Happy 2012 everyone!

Año Viejo



  1. Happy new year

  2. yolo i love ecauor im also awesome

  3. […] Ecuador, young men dress up as buxom women and block the streets flirting and asking for money to represent the mourning […]

  4. […] Ecuador, young men dress up as buxom women and block the streets flirting and asking for money to represent the mourning […]

  5. I wanted to wish an acquaintance from Ecuador Happy New Year so I did a search and this page was one of the top results. I looked at the whiteboard in the last photo and texted him Feliz Nuevo Año. Then I remembered the adjective normally follows the noun and sure enough, another search showed the correct phrase is Feliz Año Nuevo. 🙁 So who wrote the message on the whiteboard?

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