Sunday, December 29, 2013

The 13 Round Fruits and Other New Year's Eve Customs in the Philippines

The New Year is part of the Christmas season in the Philippines. It is one of the joyous and most celebrated occasions by Filipinos. Most of the traditions of Christmas and New Year are western influenced particularly Spanish and American. Over the years the Christmas and New Year traditions and customs have been infused with indigenous and Chinese practices, beliefs and superstitions. 

With the coming of New Year it has become a practice of many Filipinos to buy 13 different kinds of round and sweet fruits for display on the table on New Year’s Eve. The fruits that are easily available are apples, oranges, grapes, pears and native fruits such as melons, guavas, lanzones, rambutans, and chicos among others. Most people dread the number 13 so that they prefer to display 12 fruits instead of 13 to represent the 12 calendar months of the year. Some people who adhere to the practice believe that the display of various round shaped fruits on the table would usher in good fortune for the coming year and ward off bad luck.

Unlike Christmas, New Year is a secular occasion so that more or most people celebrate it than Christmas. However, this is not to say that the New Year’s Eve dinner or Media Noche is more grandiose than Christmas Eve dinner or Noche Buena because for most Filipinos the latter is the more significant celebration to them. During the Media Noche some people shun eating chicken meat because it represents scarcity. The fowl scratches the soil to search for food.

Since it is believed that circles or circular patterns attract money, some people wear red polka dot clothes on New Year’s Eve. Coins are also believed to bring in good fortune, and for this reason some people throw about coin to increase their wealth in the coming year. It is also the practice of some short people to jump on New Year’s Eve to increase their height. 

It is believed that loud sounds drive away evil spirits, and because of it people make it a practice to create noise on Christmas Eve. Children’s plastic horns and vehicles horns are blown, pots and pans are banged, and music is played loud to welcome the arrival of New Year. And the most eminent of all are the fireworks displays. In this recent time, the occasion seems not complete without the sound and sight of the awesome and colorful lights from the fireworks as they are detonated and catapulted to the night sky.

Most of the practices on New Year’s Eve are not in any way related to people’s religious beliefs. Some Filipinos do them because of superstitions. Others do them because they are part of their social traditions. Still others just ignore the traditions at all.