A few days after Christmas, all the street vendors go from selling Christmas decorations to selling "años viejos" (old years), effigies representing local and international politicians, famous celebrities, cartoon characters, or other people who have been in the news, generally for scandals. The effigies are made from old clothes sewn together and stuffed with sawdust, newspaper or any other flammable material. At midnight it is beaten and burned for all of the trouble it has caused in the year. In the late afternoon on New Year's Eve the men, dress up as viudas, the widows of the dying year. These viudas, however, are not very upset about their husbands' death, and tend to act promiscuously. They dress in skimpy black clothes and the viudas stand outside on the streets asking passing cars for money to help pay for their husband's funeral. The money collected is used for the New Year's Eve party. It was pretty hilarious to see this on just about every street corner on our way home from work. Luckily, people warned us in advance so we made sure to have coins to give out.
The burning of the effigies began a few days before New Year's. You could see piles of ash all along the streets. This was one we saw from the living room window: We decided to buy one and bring it with us to the party we were going to. When we first walked up to the stand, the people immediately knew we were Americans and assumed we wanted a George Bush effigy, but everyone agreed that there was someone else we'd rather beat and burn:
The clothing on him in the above picture is authentic clothing Ronnie had from his time in Afghanistan...we didn't burn him in those clothes.
Ronnie thought the masks were pretty neat so he got one for himself...
As it got close to midnight, we went downstairs to get Osama all set up for the burning. Everyone at the party was looking down from the balcony. Ronnie got his first few kicks in:
Then Paul got some extra flammable materials around him:
And just before midnight he was set ablaze! We made it back upstairs for the countdown to midnight.Unfortunately, Osama didn't burn very well, so Ronnie gave him another kick and Paul lit him up again:All in all, it was a good night. We ate lots of yummy food and enjoyed the company of friends. We hope you all enjoyed the holidays and with you lots of love, happiness and laughter in 2008!