Why Do We Bury or Burn the Old Year?

A Latino Tradition

Old Year’s Wake in Cantera, Ponce. Image: Facebook

Is there a stranger Latino tradition than holding a wake or burning the Old Year? Why do we do it?

Since it is almost New Year’s Eve, what better time to reflect on a weird Latino tradition? Oh, we have lots of superstitions and traditions surrounding this holiday.

But, who else keeps a wake to the Old Year? Who else burns it with a passion?

In Puerto Rico, it is customary to put a doll or mannequin representing the year that is leaving in a casket and holding a vigil (with food and drinks–especially rum and beer).

Meanwhile, in Ecuador, and other Latino countries, it is normal to burn a doll representing the Old Year. Again, why?

Different cultures have different rituals to explain cycles and transitions. These rituals are full of symbolism.

Perhaps it is a way to break with the old and open ourselves to the new year that begins.

In effect, we are burying the past and burning our mistakes and troubles. Thus, free of its baggage, begin the new year purified. (Fire symbolically purifies).

Gone With Ashes

Image: Infobae

If there is one year I would happily burn to ashes is 2022. It truly was a bad year personally and for the planet at large.

Heck, burning a doll representing 2022 will be akin to exorcising all the bad things the past year gave us.

Sadly, the experts are predicting 2023 will be more of the same or even worse. Again, I am not an expert or a political pundit, nor do I have a crystal ball. However, I want 2023 to be better.

This whole decade has been a nightmare. We need a break. Things must improve. Soon. For our country, for humanity, for the planet.

Hence, we should welcome the new year with whatever ritual we prefer and pray God takes pity on us.

(Of course, God could say we are still polluting the environment, we are still voting for the same candidates, and we are still denying science and common sense. How can we expect change?)

They say “new year, new hope“. I hope they are right. Or I will happily burn its doll to the ground on 12/31/23.

Happy New Year 2023!

Reader, are you excited about the new year? Or are you worried? Share in the comments.

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