Año Viejo, literally “Old Year,” is a life-sized scarecrow, dressed in old clothes, stuffed with hay and sometimes fireworks, as well as thoughts and emotions that are so-last-year. Año Viejo will be burnt at midnight on New Year’s eve.
It is a Colombian purifying ritual to chase away the negativity of the year ended. Its roots are likely found in European paganism.
Crescencio Salcedo Monroy wrote a song about it.
This time of the year, if you drive through Colombia’s small towns, you are likely to see a few Año Viejos, stooped on stools, holding empty liquor bottles, waiting out the two more days of 2011. However, due to the toxic mix of drunkenness and fires, it has become illegal to burn Año Viejos.