Tuesday, December 29, 2015

New Year Celebration in the Philippines

Although New Year is a distinct occasion, most Filipinos consider its celebration as a part of observing the long Christmas season. The New Year’s Eve is a moment when people welcome the arrival of another year as the clock strikes at midnight. New Year is supposed to be merrier than Christmas because it is more of a secular occasion. Christmas has a religious significance because the day is identified with the birth of Christ while New Year is a day to start another Gregorian calendar year. Despite the fact that Filipinos put more meaning on Christmas than the New Year, both occasions are given grandiose celebrations.

New Year's Eve is also an occasion for gift giving

Above pictures are favorite foods on New Year's Eve
beer, a favorite New Year's Eve drink
Like Christmas, fiesta, wedding, birthday and other occasions, New Year Eve is the time when members of the family, relatives and friends gather to be with the company of each other. Parties and parlor games are held, music is played for a dance or a listening, videoke or guitar or in some cases a band accompanies a song, gifts are exchanged and foods are served to people. The extent and quality of foods available and activities done are determined by the financial status or capability of a family. People who are more religious attend a mass before waiting for the arrival of the New Year.                                                                                                                    
The many activities that people are doing keep them up all through the night. As a result, they sleep late in the following morning, the New Year’s Day which is an official public holiday. In contrast to the lively atmosphere that characterized the celebration of the previous evening, the following day is usually almost devoid of people’s activities. People are in their home resting or sleeping. Government offices and private shops and businesses are closed. And many vehicles are off the street resulting in a significantly lighter traffic.

round shaped fruits on the table
Some superstitious practices that are probably of Chinese origins and not rooted on Christian belief influence the observance and welcoming of the New Year. Said practices are believed to bring forth good luck and ward off bad luck and evil spirits. Although many people do not subscribe to the ideas, other people observe the practice anyway for the sake of social tradition. Making loud sounds, putting 12 kinds of round fruits on the table, wearing polka dot dress, and spreading coins around the house are said to bring in good luck. Jumping 12 times on New Year’s Eve is said to make children become taller. When the New Year’s noise has died down, the sound of an animal that is heard first is a sign of a good or a bad fortune. A crow of a roster or a bark of a dog is a bad sign while the moo of a cow or a water buffalo or a bleat of a goat is a good sign for the coming year. Those are some of the many Filipino superstitious beliefs that are related to the celebration of New Year.

fireworks display
It is the practice of the Filipinos to make loud sound when the clock strikes midnight to bring in good luck and drive away evil spirits. People make noise by blowing horns, blowing the horns of cars, playing music loud, and banging cans and kitchen utensils among other actions. But the most popular and effective way of making noise is the use of firecrackers and fireworks. In relation to it, some people, before the New Year’s Eve, set aside money to buy those stuffs. The varied explosions, shapes, light colors, sparks and smokes caused by the exploding fireworks in the ground or in the sky are for some people a brilliant spectacle in the night sky. But for other people including the animals the burst of explosives can scare them out of their wits. There is inherent risk in exploding fireworks because people might get injured or properties might be burned. For this reason, the sale and use of fireworks and firecracker are strictly regulated or in some instances discouraged by the government.

The western influenced making of resolutions for the New Year is a practice that is adapted by the Filipinos. People hope to change their character or behavior for a better life in the coming year. Some put their resolutions into writings while others just commit them to their memory. And still other people do not make New Year’s resolutions at all, because for them, if there is something to be changed or corrected, they should do it right there and then without waiting for the year end to come to do it.

Happy New Year!