Today we travel to Ecuador, for a festival that’s about as colorful as they get: the Diablada de Píllaro.

In Spanish, that means the “Devil Dance of Píllaro,” and it means what it sounds like.

For the first six days of the year, people dance through the streets of the city in very detailed devil costumes.

The masks and outfits are often made of paper mache as well as animal fangs and horns.

Horn players and drummers play as the devils approach the city.

The costumed dancers shout out to the people watching the procession, and maybe they can get a drink or a chili pepper in return.

But neither they nor the other characters are trying to do anything wicked here: they’re symbols of defiance that outline the history behind the festival and the city.

Spanish colonists established Píllaro, and made people from nearby communities work for them, especially during the big parties they threw to start the new year.

So along with the devil dancers, there are people in costumes who represent the rich landowners, and people who represent the workers who had to sweep the streets at New Year’s.

And many of the people in the procession come from the nearby villages; they’re literally taking back the streets of the region.

By some accounts, the devil characters were also disguises people wore to shield themselves from religious authorities of the time.

There can be clowns as well as bears and hunters, too.

In all you may see hundreds of people dancing or playing music.

But it’s the devil dancers who get to act out and break all the social rules and conventions.

I mean, they’re devils, that’s what they do.

Some of us start new years by trying to establish new routines, often so we feel better.

Here’s one that gets you there in a roundabout way: the website features content that will get the tears flowing.

Because, as they put it,“Science shows crying can relieve stress for a week.”

Dancing With Devils: Latin American Mask Traditions (Ohio State University Libraries)

In Píllaro, the Year Begins with Dancing Devils (Neatorama)

cry once a week

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Photo by Raúl González via Flickr/Creative Commons