Año Viejo: New Year’s Tradition in Yucatan

For New Years, we once again went to the fishing village of Chabihau in the state of Yucatan to visit Jorge’s family. This year there was even a wedding! Jorge’s cousin Yeni (pronounced like “Jenny”) got married to her long-time beau, Armando.

We also did some crocodile watching out on Chabihau's salt lagoon

I’d heard before about a special tradition in the Yucatan known as “Año Viejo” (“Old Year”), but this year was the first time I got to see it. On our ride from Cancun to Chabihau, we passed through several villages that had dummies set out by the front gate of the homes. These dummies are known as “Años Viejos“, and they’re filled with rockets and fireworks.

Read that again… rockets and fireworks.

On December 31, the Año Viejo dummies are set out by the front door, and at midnight they’re ignited in the street to represent the end of the “Old Year”. Make sure to keep your distance! It can get pretty loud.

An "Año Viejo" in the town of Cansahcab, Yucatan

From what I could gather from Jorge’s family, it seems Año Viejo is a popular tradition throughout the Yucatan Peninsula, as well as in the state of Veracruz.

Since I was at the wedding at midnight, I didn’t get to see the Año Viejo lit up this year, even though we did have some regular fireworks and sparklers. Oh well, there’s always next year!

What did you do for New Year’s?

15 thoughts on “Año Viejo: New Year’s Tradition in Yucatan

  1. Sounds like you had a great new years! I love visiting other parts of Mexico since you get to experience the culture/traditions of civilizations that are much older!

    And a wedding on new years, I love it! Great way to kick off the new year 🙂

  2. Your New Years sounds awesome! I haven’t heard of Año Viejo before, but I’d love to travel to Yucatan or Veracruz one year and check it out!

    Happy New Year! 🙂

  3. I saw that on a TV show recently! I think they said that the government is trying to put a stop to it, though, because it’s so dangerous. I guess the rockets are flying off and shooting people 🙁

    • I haven’t heard of any incidents, but they do seem to play “fast and loose” with their pyrotechnics. At the wedding this weekend, they were shooting off mini fireworks just 5 – 10 feet away from all the kids. The Yucatecan culture is much braver than the American culture… for better or for worse haha

  4. What a great idea, but with so much danger. We would probably get arrested in the states! Shooting guns at midnight isn’t safe either.

  5. oh this’ll be real fun to read about next year – what a neat concept! I hope you go check it out for sure, what better way to ring in 2013 🙂

  6. How interesting Laura! I haven’t heard about that custom until now. Every time that you write about Chabihau I tell my husband that we should go there one day to see it for ourselves.

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