New Year in Philippines: The Food and Tradition

Aside from Noche Buena, New Year’s Eve is another feast all Filipinos look forward to with excitement and anticipation. Every household tries to make a lovely Media Noche spread, some keep it simple while others put on elaborate efforts to welcome the coming year. Regardless, New Year in the Philippines is all about food and traditions inherited from various cultures which we all grew up following and observing.

We all get dressed to the nines.
We put on our best fashion wear of polka dotted clothing or red colored attire, or whatever the lucky color for that year is. We believe circles and polka dots, symbolize money or fortune. Also we do not forget to keep coins in our pockets and jiggle it when the clock strikes at midnight to have a luckier year ahead!

The table must have 12 round and sweet fruits.
Preparing 12 round and sweet fruits as part of the Media Noche is said to be due to our Chinese influence. Each fruit represents the 12 months of the year and having these fruits set on the table is believed to bring us prosperity in the new year.

Though the kinds of fruits we prepare differ, but the common ones are grapes, chicos, pears, papayas, apples, oranges, melons, pineapples, pomelos, watermelons and lychees, including chestnuts (even if they’re sometimes not referred to as a fruit)!

Sticky rice and pancit should never lose their place on the table.

Delicacies made of glutinous rice are always part of the Media Noche staple and this represents the unity in the family. As for the pancit, having been introduced by the early Chinese immigrants in the country, these noodles represent good health and long life. Did you know that nearly 80% of Pinoys religiously follow this tradition? If there’s no pancit, you’re sure to find Pinoy-style spaghetti as a substitute!

No chicken or fish, please!
It’s a big no-no to put chicken and fish on the new year eve’s menu as some Filipinos believe these two dishes represent scarcity of food.

Keep all the doors and windows open.
Another Chinese influence, it is said that keeping all the doors and windows wide open to welcome the new year is letting the bad luck out and letting the good energy in. Along with this practice, we are urged to turn all the lights in the house for the belief of a brighter year ahead.

Fireworks, sounds and noises are welcome.
The recent years saw the decline of the use of firecrackers on New Year’s Eve, instead, people are encouraged to watch community display of fireworks which prove to be safer and more economical (the few thousands you’ll save for firecrackers and fireworks is a good addition to the new year’s budget). The old habit of honking the car’s horn doesn’t lose its appeal though, it still applies to every car owner out on the streets during new year.

Jump high to be taller.
An amusing tradition in the country, kids are told to jump as high as they can when the clock strikes at 12 midnight. Doing so, according to old folks, will make them grow taller.

Filipino traditions are quite unique and seem amusing to outsiders, but these are what makes Filipino celebrations enjoyable and merry. However we celebrate the coming of the New Year, the important thing is to celebrate it with our family and the people who really matter in our lives.

Cover photo credits: @heyvinzel via IG

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