How to celebrate New Year in the Philippines
Nothing beats the Christmas celebration here
in the Philippines. Well, nothing that is until
you get to experience the New Year celebrations!
One of the noisiest time (if not the noisiest)
of the year, New Year is a much anticipated
celebration here in my country. For one,
Christmas day is like only 6 days away from New
Year’s Eve. For another, December 30 here is a
holiday (for our national hero). So you see,
after December 25, we go to work like for only 2
to 3 days then it’s the New Year holidays! No
wonder we think of New Year as a holiday
attached to Christmas.
This text is all about the New Year traditions in the Philippines. Some of these traditions may be old (and may be considered outdated). Some are based on (superstitious?) beliefs. And still others are based on pure positive thinking.
Oh no, we’re not contented with the commercialized, often-watched fireworks display in the television or cable channels during New Year’s Eve. We’re talking about pure, unadulterated, fun fireworks that will really drive you nuts with all the noise and the smoke. Fireworks have become as much part of our New Year’s tradition as the Simbang Gabi (dawn mass) is a Christmas tradition. Despite the fact that injuries and even death happen due to fireworks, Filipinos still continue to buy and use them. For some, there is the belief that the noise and the smoke will drive the evil spirits away and ensure a good new year for that person. For others, it’s just simply the joy of seeing all those bright lights and looking up in the bright skies.
Fireworks here have a local flavor, meaning we have our own. We have the Sinturon ni Judas (Judas’ belt) which is like a belt filled with all those firecrackers. There’s the Sawa or snake, which is like the belt but longer and with more firecrackers. This is the one used during the countdown because it really lasts for several minutes. There’s the bawang or triangle which, when lit, gives out a loud bang (just make sure you throw it before it does this or else, you’ll lose your fingers with it). We also have the (relatively harmless) firecrackers like the roman candle and the fountain (they just give out light but no loud sound).
Making loud noises
For those Filipinos who are not fans of fireworks, there are alternative noisemakers (New Year is really not complete without the noise). So what do we use? Trumpets (they’re hot items during this time), pots, pans, whistles, car horns, anything that will make a lot of noise. Or you can turn up your radio or MP3 full blast and have the songs blaring at top volume.
Nothing about the Philippines will be complete without food. We celebrate the New Year’s Eve by sharing a midnight meal with our family (called the Media Noche). This feast symbolizes family union and celebration. The food varies. Some serve an all-out feast. Some serve simple meals. It’s really not the food that counts but the atmosphere and the camaraderie during the meal.
There is one tradition related to food and this is serving 12 (or is it 13) kinds of round fruits during New Year celebration. Each fruit represents one month in the coming year and the round shape is believed to bring good luck for that month. This is a tradition that is still being followed up to now. Filipinos are still so much into this that prices of round fruits during Christmas season goes up because of the demand.
Let’s see. What to wear during the New Year’s Eve celebrations? How about clothes with polka-dots on them? There is the belief that wearing clothes with polka-dots will bring lots of money (or prosperity) during the coming year.
If you want to increase your good luck, make sure that all your pockets and wallets have money on them. This will ensure that you will not have empty pockets the rest of the new year.
There is the belief too that you should open all doors, windows and lights during New Year’s Eve (just be prepared for the smoke from the fireworks to filter in) to invite good luck in your home.
Lastly, when you celebrate the coming of the New Year, make sure you have a happy smile on your face. Failure to do so will mean you will have 12 months of unhappiness during the coming year. Just kidding, I made this up. Happy New Year to everyone!