Re: New Years Eve Fires

William M. Loker (wloker@RA.MSSTATE.EDU)
Tue, 25 Jul 1995 16:05:11 -0500

In the Peruvian Amazon -- and perhaps elsewhere in Peru, I don't know --
there is the custom of burning human effigies --- clothing stuffed with
rags, dried leaves with firecrackers mixed in for excitement -- on New
Years Eve. These effigies are called "Pilatos" presumably after Pontius
Pilate. In burning the effigy one is supposedly destroying all the bad
luck that one had during the last year and preparing a "clear slate" for
the upcoming year. The custom is widespread. In the town where I lived,
hundreds of Pilatos were burned. In discussing this custom with a
Honduran friend, she instantly recognized the practice, so it may be
widespread throughout Latin America.

Bill Loker