Fernando Arroyo Leon
Quito, Dec 31 (EFE).- Many Ecuadorian streets have experienced the presence of “widows”, men dressed as women who dress up very sensually to beg for alms on the street with which to finance the funeral of the year that will die in the city. bonfire.
This popular and traditional parody is part of a particular unparalleled celebration, in which people identify the end of the year with a puppet they call “Old Year” with the mask of a politician or character from television, cinema or sports, the one he will burn on New Year’s Eve.
On the sidewalks of the streets, people place the “old ones”, protected with a roof -traditionally made with eucalyptus branches- and decorate them with posters with funny or sarcastic phrases that denote the painful, difficult or tragic moments of the year that is ending.
The “testament” is also usually placed, a string of advice and wishes, as an inheritance, so that people face the new year and leave past hardships behind.
The “dying man” is cared for in his last hours by “widows” who try to seduce passers-by into leaving some coins for the “funeral”.
“A little handout for this poor old man” is the phrase with which “they” begin to convince passers-by to contribute to the cost of the funeral of the puppet made with old clothes and full of sawdust.
The insistence of the “widows” can reach high levels, especially since some resort to high seduction to achieve the goal… Everything is theater and people, as has happened throughout their lives, know that this parody only repeats itself the end of the year.
And while the young people get the “alms to finance the funeral”, which in the end will be a collection to buy drinks, the rest of the families continue with the preparation of the New Year’s Eve dinner.
At midnight on December 31, people burn the “old years” stick figures, kick them, jump over them and finally see them burn, in a vision that also tries to incinerate the bad memories of the year that is ending.
However, the burning of the stick figures in the street has been declining in recent years due to ecological issues and municipal ordinances that also advise avoiding the use of fireworks to avoid pet stress and reduce environmental pollution.
In the port city of Guayaquil, in the southwest of the country, the celebration takes on larger dimensions, as the stick figures, made from cardboard, paper and other recycled materials, can reach more than ten meters in height.
In Guayaquil, the puppets are exhibited in some streets, especially in the south of the city, and are visited by many people who admire them for their grandeur and details, since they almost perfectly recreate the characters they represent.
The giant stick figures, which do not burn, identify characters from show business, music and sports. Argentine star Lio Messi, Puerto Rican rapper Daddy Yankee, Japanese manga “Mazinger Z” and Kiss bassist Gene Simons are some of the celebrities who have been photographed in this year’s exhibition.
Considered as “true works of art”, the Guayaquil puppets compete for a prize that the City Council will award on January 14, the date until which they will continue on the streets for the enjoyment of citizens.
The party, however, continues in the street on New Year’s Eve and many families bring out their sound equipment to enliven the dance among neighbors.
The revelry comes to a standstill at midnight when the families go home to perform the rite of embracing the New Year, generally accompanied by dinner and observance of the cabals (eating grapes, walking with a suitcase in hand, using yellow underwear and religious prayers, among others), to then return to the street and continue the party. EFE
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