Happy New Year to all!
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old (and may be considered outdated).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
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 noise – makers
(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
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
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