New Year’s Eve in Veracruz
In Veracruz the end of the year is celebrated with a party (of course!) that includes a very interesting tradition that has been carried out for many generations. This year I was fortunate enough to share in the festivities.
The tradition involves saying goodbye to the old year and welcoming in the new one. This is done by making an ‘effigy’ of Don Farruko, affectionately known as ‘el Viejo’, the old man. He is a life size scarecrow-like figure that represents the passing year. On the front porches of the houses the families set out an extra chair to display their creations.
There is a song that everyone sings about the viejo. It doesn’t translate really well, but I’ll try…Alms for this poor old man, he has left a son for the New Year. Here is Don Farruko, he is dying of laughter, because at midnight, he will return to ashes… More verses are invented at the time but most aren’t fit for publication!
Since I love doing paper mache, I was nominated to make the head of the ‘Viejo’. I formed it completely out of paper. One of our little nieces helped out. When the head was ready, the rest of the family took over and made the body. They stuffed a shirt & pants with paper – and FIRECRACKERS – to create an old man.
Then we all ate pozole…
As the hour of midnight drew close, we propped up Don Farruko in the middle of the road. The neighbours were doing the same. With a little gasoline and a match, suddenly the Viejo burst into flames. As the fire reached the many firecrackers, explosions started and body parts flew in all directions. We later found an arm of someone else’s old man in the ashes with our guy! We had chosen the cutest little girl to collect money from the family for the firecrackers. She did such a great job that we almost exploded the neighbourhood!
When the excitement died down, we all ate pozole again and chicken and spaghetti and ……
Happy New Year!!!