Ecuadorians prepare to burn dolls to bid farewell to tough 2016

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QUITO, April 24, 2016 (Xinhua) -- People holding candles attend the memorial event for the earthquake victims in Quito, capital of Ecuador, April 23, 2016. The death toll of the deadly 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck the northern Pacific coast of Ecuador on April 16 has risen to 646, said President Rafael Correa Saturday. (Xinhua/Santiago Armas)
QUITO, April 24, 2016 (Xinhua) -- People holding candles attend the memorial event for the earthquake victims in Quito, capital of Ecuador, April 23, 2016. The death toll of the deadly 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck the northern Pacific coast of Ecuador on April 16 has risen to 646, said President Rafael Correa Saturday. (Xinhua/Santiago Armas)

Ecuadorians are preparing to bid farewell to 2016 by burning rag dolls at midnight on Dec. 31, a tradition dating back to 1830.

Historian Juan Paz y Mino said burning rag dolls represents leaving behind all the bad things that happened in the year that is ending.

This tradition is being maintained in a number of Latin American countries, but is most commonly found in Ecuador.

The rag dolls dressed in old clothes are made out of cardboard and newspapers and often filled with sawdust. They can be made to resemble politicians, actors, footballers or superheroes, among others.

“While their range has grown, the rag dolls have a tradition of political satire, poking fun at national events,” said Paz y Mino.

Since Monday in Quito, where the tradition has continued for around 150 years, vendors have been selling rag dolls of all shapes and sizes on street corners, with prices ranging from 5 to 80 U.S. dollars each.

In a stall in southern Quito, Nely Chasiluiza, a rag doll vendor, told Xinhua this was a family tradition.

“Every year, I have worked with my parents to sell these,” said the 25-year-old woman. “The dolls are brought from Guayaquil (Ecuador’s largest city). There are even some that look like the Minions or the Angry Birds.” However, Chasiluiza said the tradition of filling the dolls with sawdust is dwindling.

“People come with their whole family to buy rag dolls. There are some for adults and children. This is a custom that brings families together who enjoy seeing the dolls and other things that revive the festivities,” said Denis Herrera, another vendor.

Juan Lopez, a public employee, said there was plenty of reason to burn the dolls this year as 2016 had been tough for the Ecuadorian economy.

“I hope the situation improves next year. We do not know what the future holds for the country but I do feel we have moved forward, despite the problems,” he said.

President Rafael Correa has admitted that 2016 was particularly hard for Ecuador due to the sharp drop in oil revenues, the appreciation of the U.S. dollar and especially the devastating earthquake on April 16, which killed more than 600 people and displaced thousands. Enditem

Source:Elena Chuquimarca, Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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