New Year’s Eve – San Juan style

Like Semana Santa, San Juan del Sur gets turned inside out during New Year’s.  Hordes of both foreign tourists and Managua transplants swarm San Juan from December 27 right on thru the New Year.  The beach road gets closed to traffic creating a pedestrian walkway along the shore and causing grid lock on the four remaining streets in town.  Firecrackers are exploded by the minute and our own backyard became the perfect spot to view our neighbor’s fireworks display.  Temporary tents, stages, and bars are erected to the north end of the beach and our sleep little fishing village turns, quite rapidly, into Spring Break.

 

ringing in the New Year with friends

ringing in the New Year with friends

 

 

Amidst all the craziness, there are also some wonderful traditions taking place.  Justin and I spent New Year’s at a block party in town, thrown by some friends.  We ate bbq, drank rum, a local band peformed, people danced in the street.  However, my favorite activity of the entire evening was the Año Viejo…

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our very own año viejo

our very own año viejo

 

 

The Año Viejo is a fiery tradition that symbolically burns up the failures, regrets and anger of the old year in order to usher in the hopes and resolutions of the new one. On the last day of the year, people construct effigies that might represent an irritating person, a disliked political figure, or even disappointment about past mistakes or unachieved goals. A handwritten note is pinned to the dummy explaining why it must be burned and what changes and improvements are desired for the coming year. Then, to a chorus of cheers and clapping, the effigy is thrown into the street and burned to ashes.  Some people stuff the año viejos with triquitraques (firecrackers) and watch the “man” explode.

 

Justin diving for cover after lighting an año viejo

Justin diving for cover after lighting an año viejo

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a burning año viejo