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El Año Viejo or the old year is a tradition in many Latin countries to burn the “old year.” What exactly is this old year? Well, imagine making at the strike of twelve setting a dummy in flames to say goodbye to the old year. That my friends are the tradition of Año Viejo. This tradition is done most New Years at the last final moments of the transition from the old year to the new one. This Hispanic tradition is, in my opinion, is very interesting, therefore, I have decided to research this said topic. What exactly is the Año Viejo, though? This is a very important question to ask. Año Viejo is a dummy filled with straw or vegetable scraps. Other times it is filled with old clothes, cardboard, paper, and other old things. People gather together to finalize the dummy. Someone brings an old shirt; someone brings an old pair of jeans; another person brings an old mans cap. Finally, everything is almost complete for someone comes with an empty bottle of booze. Along with the bottle someplace pictures of the previous year with the dummy. At the end of the day, everyone gathers around a fills the doll with fireworks until the clock strikes twelve. Someone lights a match and boom! The old year is burning along with the negative things it brought with it. This tradition is said to be “possibly derived from ancient European pagan rituals such as Saturnalia of the Romans or Celtic rituals and the Olentzero in the Basque Country and Navarre in Spain.” Although some say that the tradition has links to the suppression of the Native Americans while they were in the hands of the Spanish. Different sources claim different things as its origin is mainly a mystery. Some claim it began in 1895 when a plague spread in Guayaquil; back then the dead were burned in large piles. A relatively morbid background to the otherwise cheerful tradition. History books report that the tradition is most likely connected to the Feast of St. Joseph. Then again each country started this tradition for different reasons. Whether that be because of religion, area, or customs at the time. A few countries simply got bored of their own traditions and picked this one up. One thing is certain though, out with the old and in with the new. Several Hispanic countries have the belief that when burning el Año Viejo all the bad in the previous year will be burned with it. This ritual in past time was said to ward off back luck and bad spirits. Although that was only back then. Currently, the tradition is still done but more so for fun. Big burnings and such are still done at town squares and etc., but recently it has become a small little thing done between families. Making a small doll of sorts and burning it in the sink have now become a thing. Meanwhile, other families simply do not do the tradition at all. Slowly but surely less and fewer people are continuing the tradition. Which is truly a shame as the tradition is now getting lost in history. In conclusion, this was a very interesting tradition to research. The theories of how it started kept me hooked as well as the disputes my parents had on which theory was correct. Although my family does not do the tradition itself, they have memories of it happening when they were kids. I do wish this tradition didn’t start getting lost in time. I would have loved to see this tradition with my very own eyes. Something so mysterious and filled with history should not be forgotten. Surely learning about it had made me excited to one day do it for myself. Seeing as the New Year is approaching I should start building my doll. 

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