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With the new year ringing in, people from around the world are welcoming it by throwing parties, cooking a feast to be shared with family and friends, or just a simple dinner and a movie.
Having migrated to the United States for several years now, I still find myself being bugged by my Filipino parents to take these extra steps of prepping for the occasion. I really could care less especially if I’m left to do it on my own.
However, it does add a dimension of quirkiness to the tradition of celebrating the beginning of a new year. So, here are what Filipino families traditionally do.
Fireworks are a huge part of any Filipino’s holiday celebration. Pop up stores selling these celebratory explosives adorn roadsides as soon as September hits.
Every household have their own fireworks supply and display that the night sky lits up once it rings midnight. It’s almost like an unspoken competition among neighbors too. My fireworks are better than yours.
Sometimes, those that do not want to bother with fireworks just steps out of the house to watch everyone else do theirs. Free fireworks show. The streets are full of remnant trash the following morning.
Meanwhile, here in the United States, leave the fireworks display to main city events such as the New York Countdown or like when we went to Chicago’s Rising Star event in 2016.
Everyone would wear clothing with the polka dot pattern. Circles on shirts, dresses, socks, pants, and so on. It is believed to bring money and fortune with the new year.
Pockets full of cash
Make sure your pockets are lined with cash bills! Never meet the new year with empty pockets or you’d be empty pocketed for the entire year.
Jumping at Midnight
For the vertically challenged person, jumping at midnight will somehow make you taller.
Don’t be surprised if your short Filipino friends start hopping around the room during your New Year’s gathering.
Filipinos love their food. So, the holidays is a perfect opportunity for them to cook favorites. During New Years Eve, it’s imperative that the dining table is full of food. The feast is called media noche. It signifies meeting the incoming year bountifully.
Fruits. Round Fruits.
The star of every media noche table is a bowl of fruits at its center. Not just any fruit, they have to be round. Some people has 12, 13, or 14 different assortments. Also, they would tell you to deter from spiky fruits like pineapples or jackfruits to avoid conflicts in the next year.
Eat Sticky Rice. Eat Pancit.
Sticky rice, which is basically in most Filipino favorite desserts like kalamay, is believed to keep relationships intact.
Pancit or noodles, on the other hand, is believed to bring long life to those who eat it during New Years.
No Chicken. No Fish.
As much as there are food that are considered lucky for the occasion, there are also meats that were deemed to bring misfortune. In this case, do not serve chicken or fish.
Make Some Noise!
Noisemakers like hat horns or whistles are popular merchandise for the little kids and even the adults for New Years. If you don’t have any of these, hitting pots and pans, yelling or loud party music can be done too.
Throw the Coins. Throw the Rice.
Filipinos will walk around their houses and throw coins in every room. Also, throw in rice at the room corners for good measure.
Again, this is to bring in prosperity with the new year. Hopefully, not rodents.
Also, good luck with the clean up the next day.
Lights on. Doors opened.
Every single room of the house needs to have its lights on. Every door to a room needs to be opened. Making sure that all bright outcomes and opportunities are yours to have this year.
12 Grapes. 12 Wishes.
Representing the months of the upcoming year, this superstition requires you to eat 12 pieces of grapes and for every grape you eat, you have to mutter a wish that you like granted or a goal you want to attain. You have to do this when the clock strikes midnight.