Last week I shared some holiday traditions and celebrations, and this week, I checked in with another staff member at Starfish to share her story. Yuliana took some time to explain the important of having family time around Christmas and New Year’s.
“For us, it is really important being together because the new year comes with goals. One of the many things we do on Christmas for the kids – my nephews and nieces – is to give them as many presents as we can. We try to keep their Christmas spirit high, because recently it feels like people are losing some of it.
Throughout all of December, we decorate with Christmas lights. Five years ago we stopped putting up a tree – it was a tradition we lost while we were growing up – but now we want our nephews and nieces to keep the Christmas spirit, so, we recently decided to bring back our traditions and start exchanging gifts again.”
She took some time to explain how the younger children enjoy New Year’s Eve:
“They enjoy the night with sparklers, fireworks and other games until midnight when we eat dinner and each family member gets to pray and share their wishes for new year’s.
For holiday dinners, many families make pork or turkey, but in my house we usually make something different like shrimp and different types of salads. We stay awake until 6 in the morning dancing and talking and hanging out with the neighbors.”
So while the children are playing games and lighting sparklers, what is everyone else up to?
“We consider New Year’s Eve more of a holiday for grown-ups. Adults get to buy nice clothes to feel and be their best for the new year. This is a tradition we have as a family. We also play secret Santa with friends and family. We usually say an attribute about the person we’re giving the gift to, and everyone else gets to guess who that is.”
What a neat family tradition! But it’s not just Yuliana’s family with a cool tradition, Ecuador as a country has a really cool tradition for New Year’s Eve as well:
“Every year we buy a monigote or a big doll made of recycled newspapers and other materials, to say our goodbyes to the old year. We get to burn the monigotes after our Secret Santa exchange, and each year there is a contest for all our neighbors, family and friends to see who has the largest doll. This is something unique about our country. After the contest, we get to wish everyone a happy new year.”
I can’t thank Yuliana enough for all this fun information and for sharing her yearly traditions with me. I hope she and her family and neighbors have a great Christmas and New Year’s and all of you reading this have a holiday season full of peace, joy, and loved ones.