If you’re spending New Year’s Eve there, chances are you’ll be able to take part in one of these events, because in Ecuador, during el Año Viejo, there are lots of specific traditions. 

The monigotes, papier-mâché characters

Groups of people, often from the same neighborhood, improvise a stage or mark out a space with branches or other objects. They present one or more papier-mâché or fabric figures, possibly with firecrackers inside, sawdust or straw, or even newspaper.

They wear a satirical mask of a figure symbolizing the past year, often a politician.

After reading the “wills” of past years, in which everything is criticized – society, rulers, neighbors, etc. – the character is burned at midnight. The figure is burned at midnight, and everyone jumps underneath the burning figure, as if to leave behind the worst of the year.

Meanwhile, men dressed as widows strolled the streets, often blocking traffic with a rope, asking for alms to help pay for the funeral.

It’s a very joyful, good-natured moment that brings life to this stage of the year.

This tradition originated in Guayaquil at the end of the 18th century, when, to ward off yellow fever, people began burning the clothes of deceased families with bales of straw at the end of the year.

To learn even more about Ecuador’s cultural diversity, take a look at our specialized tour. Do it all year round!