For most of us, the New Year ushers in a new age of opportunities. But just to make sure, many Filipinos also engage in several superstitions to invite good luck to their households and their lives.
Some of these superstitions date back several years and come from foreign lands. For instance, the tradition of putting round fruits in the center of the dining New Year’s Eve originated from China. Both the Chinese and Filipinos believe that the round symbolizes fortune and prosperity. The number of fruits also varies from family to family, with some putting 12, 13, or 14. Some fruits used as a centerpiece for the dining table are oranges, apples, and kiwi. However, many people avoid fruits with thorns like pineapples, durians, and jackfruits because thorns signify problems and obstacles.
The same inclination towards round objects also translates to the Filipinos’ fashion sense. Before the clock strikes 12, many change their costumes into one adorned with polka dots. Like the fruits, the polka dots on one’s dress symbolize luck.
Filipinos also use coins to usher in fortune and prosperity during the New Year. Although the origin of this practice is still unclear, peoples fill their pockets with coins to jingle at midnight. Others also scatter coins in every nook and cranny, in drawers, tables, and anywhere they believe would bring them good luck.
Chinese influence on Filipinos’ New Year’s Eve traditions doesn’t end with round shapes. Another common practice during the start of a new year is setting off fireworks. But the main point of lighting these colorful and loud sparklers is the noise they cause. People believe that loud noises drive away bad spirits, elements, and bad luck. But pyrotechnics aren’t the only source of noise during the New Year. As a safety precaution, many Filipinos, especially children, use horns called “torotot” or bangs pots and pans to create a lively noise to welcome in the New Year.
However, the Chinese aren’t solely responsible for many New Year’s traditions. The most important part of the annual celebration is the Media Noche or the dinner to welcome the new year. This custom is most likely inherited from the Spaniards, who colonized the Philippines for more than 300 years.
During Media Noche, families, relatives, and friends gather for a lavish meal that signifies their hopes for a prosperous year ahead.
Although the Media Noche is of Spanish influence, the Chinese contributed another custom to some Filipino superstitions during the New Year. One of the most common dishes served during the annual celebration is pancit. Many believe that eating pancit promotes good health, long life, and invites good luck.
There are several other superstitions that Filipinos adhere to during New Year’s Eve. Other examples include jumping high at the stroke of midnight because many folks believe that it will help them grow taller and opening all doors and windows to usher in prosperity and positivity.
Superstitions vary from one Filipino household to another, but each one serves a purpose that gives families a chance to celebrate New Year according to their terms. Regardless of what customs they follow, cheers to a great year ahead.