1. Welcoming New Year with the family
Families await the new year together, just like they gather on Christmas Eve.
2. Having a Media Noche
The whole family partake of Media Noche at the stroke of 12 midnight which signals the change from the old year to the new. During new year’s eve, Filipino families gather for a midnight meal that bonds family together.
3. Eating noodles for long life
Filipinos believe that eating long noodles during new year will bring good health and long life. When I was a kid, we always had macaroni. The macaroni weren’t cut then and they were cut/broken by hands before cooking. My mother used to leave an uncut/unbroken macaroni for long life. The younger generation in our family prefer spaghetti now. Others cook pansit or sotanghon.
4. Making loud noise to drive away evil spirits
The objective is to create loud sounds to scare away evil spirits and elements and also to drive away bad luck. But for kids, they do it for fun.
My brothers used to have a bamboo cannon when we were kids. This was the star of the New Year in our neighborhood as the other children competed as to whose cannon was the loudest. They also put tin cans at the mouth of the cannon to serve as their projectile and it was a contest as to whose cannon’s projectile would land the farthest.
A Chinese influence are the firecrackers and fireworks.
Apart from pyrotechnics, others create loud noise through other means such as the car horn, torotot (hornpipe) , frying pans or pots, cans and any other item that can make a loud noise.
5. Making sure rice and water containers are full
It’s always best to welcome the new year abundantly, so many Filipinos make sure that their water and rice containers are full as the year starts because they believe that this will make their life prosperous all year round. Some families also make sure that salt and sugar containers are full.
6. Cleaning the home
Cleaning is a common New Year’s Eve tradition around the world. The family attracts harmony and order for the upcoming year through a clean and orderly home. It’s the perfect way to start anew.
It’s also a practice to declutter because the space vacated opens up for something new.
7. Opening doors, windows and turning on all the lights
Another tradition is to open all doors, windows, drawers and cabinets to bring in good fortune and let the positive vibes in.
8. Paying off debts
Ideally, one should welcome the New Year debt free. It is believed that whatever is your financial state when the clock hits 12 midnight on new year’s day, will be the same financial status for the rest of the coming year. Some also fill their pockets or wallets with new bills or at least lots of money to invite wealth for the entire year.
9. Wearing polka dots dress
Wearing anything with something round signifies prosperity. The polka dots symbolizes money and fortune.
10. Having a variety of round-shaped fruits on the table
Originally it was 12, one lucky fruit for each month of the year, then some made it 13 for the bonus month as my friend would put it, then14 for more bonuses – now many strive to have as many round fruits on the table. Filipinos believe that round is a symbol for prosperity and fortune. This tradition was probably inherited from the Chinese. The round fruits are often the centerpiece of the Media Noche.
11. Wearing something red
Red symbolizes happiness and abundance thus something red is worn to attract happiness and prosperity.
12. Having coins
Another popular practice is to fill up one’s pockets with coins and shake the pockets at 12 midnight. This practice is believed to bring good fortune. Coins are also placed on windows and doorways to attract the entry of good fortune. Some also scatter coins around their house – at every nook and corner, inside drawers, on tables and anywhere they believe will bring them more luck and money. Others throw coins for others to catch. This is a form of thanksgiving and a sign of prosperity for the one giving/throwing the coins. For those catching the coins, the coins caught are believed to bring good luck.
13. Not spending on January 1
It is believed that not spending on the first day of the year will lead to better financial management for the rest of the year. So there are Filipinos who stay at home on January 1 to avoid spending money.
14. Eating sticky rice to strengthen family bond
Filipinos are known to be family oriented with very close family ties. They believe that eating food made from sticky rice like suman (a type of rice cake made from boiling wrapped rice in coconut milk and sugar for some) ,bibingka (a type of baked rice cake), biko (sweet rice cake) and tikoy (another type of rice cake) will bind families together stronger.
15. Jumping high when the clock strikes 12
I remember this was practiced on Easter Sunday but I hear some who practice this as the New Year comes. Children are encouraged to jump as high as they can when the clock hits 12 because old folks believe that it will help the kids grow taller.
16. Not eating chicken dishes
A tradition followed by some Filipinos is to abstain from eating chicken as they are associated with food scarcity from the Filipino idiom isang kahig, isang tuka literally one scratch, one peck which means one’s earnings/salary for the day is just enough for that day’s consumption only.