7 Unique Filipino New Year Traditions and Beliefs you need to know!

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The biggest, loudest, and the craziest party of the year is just a few days away! It’s usually the time when people across the world indulge in fun and frolic, bidding a happy farewell to the passing year and cheerfully greeting the New Year — hoping for this initial boundless joy to continue throughout. Wild parties, striking firework shows, musical concerts, social gatherings, mass prayers — all these are common sights on this spectacular night!

But then, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything, to a lesser or greater extent. Come festivals and celebrations, it has left us with the eccentric feeling as we reminisce about the restriction-free festivities of the past years. Anyway, let’s get to our new tradition of looking back, and here we have come up with interesting Filipino New Year traditions. Read on!

12 circular fruits as a staple for Media Noche:

Every celebration calls for get-togethers and grand feasts! Filipino families, relatives, and friends gather on New Year’s Eve to celebrate over a lavish meal called Media Noche (a Spanish term for ‘midnight’). And guess the centerpiece of Media Noche — 12 round fruits! Having at least a single bite of 12 different circular fruits is a common New Year tradition in the Philippines, which is believed to bestow good luck, fortune, prosperity (and everything that’s traditionally associated with the round shape). If you are flying to the Philippines for the New Year celebrations, don’t fail to gobble down perfectly round ubas at 12 o’clock on 31st December!

Pancit, sticky rice, and other traditional dishes too:

Eating delicacies made with glutinous rice (popularly Bibingka and Biko), Pancit (long noodles), and eggs (in some places) is also a widely followed New Year Eve’s food tradition in the Philippines. Pancit is a must-eat on special days, say birthdays, festivals, etc., as the long noodles are often considered a symbol for long life! Likewise, eating sticky rice is thought to strengthen the family ties, besides helping the good fortune to stick around all through the upcoming year.

No fish and chicken on New Year’s Eve:

Although chicken or fish is an essential food item cooked for a typical Pinoy feast, Filipinos rather stay away from consuming fish and chicken on New Year’s Eve. Eating hen and fish, which usually scrounge for food, is considered a bad omen of suffering and hardship involved in making ends meet. 

A jump of joy at 12 o’clock:

One of the light-hearted Filipino New Year traditions is that kids in the Philippines are encouraged to jump high before the first minute of the New Year goes by. This, they believe, helps the children grow taller!

Wearing polka-dot dresses:

A circle, the shape of gold and silver coins, is a symbol of prosperity in the Filipino culture. Filipinos see that they include as many round things as possible in their New Year celebrations, and so they dress up in a polka-dot outfit for the New Year. Filling the pockets with coins, leaving coins in drawers, shelves, on tables (every nook and cranny, if possible) is another popular Filipino New Year tradition that is believed to bring an abundance of wealth.

Keeping the doors open and the lights turned on:

You might have already guessed the reason behind this New Year tradition in the Philippines, haven’t you? Opening all the doors and windows of the homes is to let in the positive energy, good luck, and prosperity, while the bright lights in the homes reflect their hopes for a brighter year ahead.

A loud and noisy celebration:

Bursting the firecrackers at the stroke of midnight is a common New Year tradition in the Philippines, as it is anywhere else in the world. Are you wondering what’s so special about it? Let’s tell you that the Filipinos burst firecrackers and make blaring sounds (with whatever instruments are available – a car horn, torotots, and even kitchen appliances) so as to drive off evil spirits and ill fortune. This popular Filipino New Year tradition is influenced by the Chinese custom of bursting fireworks to scare away evil spirits.

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