It's almost New Year's! If you're planning on traveling to South America during this festive time of year, you won't want to miss out on these wondrous and strange traditions.
Paso de Nino Viajero – On December 24th, Cuenca, Ecuador comes out in a fantastic blend of colors culture and food. Children dress as different biblical characters in their particular ethnic style and participate in a procession throughout the city alongside floats and a variety of musical marching bands.
Takanakuy – One of the stranger and more ferocious traditions happens in the Peruvian Andes when on December 25th, the inhabitants of the region dance and fight each other. The fighting is a form of settling conflicts and display of manhood (or womanhood). Alcohol, music and costume all combine in an amazing display of the human variation in the passing of the New Year.
Burning the Doll – While becoming prohibited in the more developed parts of the country, this tradition resembles a bit of voodoo with a blend of the Asian fixation of firecrackers. Essentially, you take old clothes and stuff it full of newspaper and firecrackers in the form of a person. With a quick lite, it quickly becomes an exploding scarecrow and entertainment for all. Its symbolism lies in the one’s moving beyond the old of the previous year and having clean slate for the upcoming.
Offering to the Ocean – Originating from African slaves that were brought to the north of the country, the tradition is to offer flowers to the ocean and light candles on the beach. Part of the Afro-Brazilian religion of Yemanja, it’s meant to worship the sea and help give the participant guidance for the upcoming year.
In hopes of an upcoming year filled with travel, one mimics such with taking a suitcase and circling around block. It’s a more modern practice that reflects the countries emergence as modern economy and an increasingly mobile society. It’s also becoming a prevalent tradition in many other emerging South American countries from Peru to Chile.