Nicaragua Burns the Old (Year)

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A Nicaraguan tradition is to ‘burn the old’ year. People create effigies of old men, called muñecos, and stuffed them with gunpowder. As the blogger for Rewired and Retired in Nicaragua writes, “the dolls are adorned with vices, such as cigars, cigarettes, and guarón (homemade moonshine). The old men are hung in the streets, and when the New Year arrives, they burn them. All of their vices explode in a flame of glory.”

El Nuevo Diario explains:

The custom of burning gunpowder stuffed dolls dates from 50 years ago in our country, according Wilmor López, historian and specialist in popular culture; the tradition “symbolizes the farewell to the old year and welcome to the new, starting with a clean slate,” Lopez said.

[. . .] Each old man is dressed differently. Some wear suits and ties, some jeans and shirts, shoes, hats, cigarette in their mouths, or beer cans and liquor bottles in their hands. The idea is to burn them a few minutes after the end of the current year, to scare away the bad vibes and receive the coming year with optimism.

In one of the gunpowder stalls located near the Ministry of Labour, they developed 35 different dolls, built out of cardboard, posterboard, cotton, crepe paper, old clothes, newspapers, balloons of all sizes and, finally, loaded with gunpowder.

[. . .] On the route taken by El Nuevo Diario, we noticed that along the gunpowder stalls of the Mercado Periférico, near Mitrab andTiscapa, the prices of these dolls range from C$500 to C$1,200 [C=Córdobas].

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