They know how to celebrate in the Philippines. The festivities kick off in September, so by the time New Year’s Eve comes around, the party is already in full swing. As the new year approaches, we’ve cherry-picked some of the most common and more unusual traditions people in the Philippines adopt to celebrate the New Year. From leaping children and loud firecrackers to sticky rice and round fruit, here are some of the best New Years traditions in the Philippines.
New Years Traditions in the Philippines
1. Sticky rice to strengthen your bonds
Family is important to Filipinos, so you should do everything you can to nurture those bonds. At New Year, it’s traditional to eat dishes made from sticky rice, such as bibingka, a tasty rice cake, and biko, a sweet rice cake. As well as bringing you all together, it’s supposed to bring good fortune too – the sticky rice is a magnet for good fortune and it’ll stick with you all year.
2. Bring out the polka dots
If you want a double whammy of good luck for the following year, consider wearing polka dots. In the Philippines, the round shapes bring prosperity and wealth. You should also fill your pockets with as many (circular) coins as you can get your hands on.
On a similar note, you should also eat as much round fruit as you can manage – at least 12 pieces. This tradition was inherited from China. Every New Years families will lay the table with an abundance of round fruit to attract prosperity. You should avoid eating fruits with thorns like pineapple, jackfruit and durian though since those prickly bits will put some nasty obstacles in your way the following year.
3. Eat lots of long noodles too
As well as sticky rice and the round fruit, Filipinos believe that eating long noodles known as pancit will bring luck, as well as good health and a long life. But you should avoid eating anything with chicken given its associations with food scarcity. Filipinos say “one scratch, one peck” to describe the situation of the poorest of the poor, so replace the chicken with seafood to bring good luck instead.
Media Noche is the name for the special New Years feast. Eaten at midnight, the menu will include ten specific dishes, including a roast, deep-fried or stewed pork, which is a symbol of progress. As well as the round, ripe fruits, other circular dishes make an appearance, like lentils (which represent an abundance of money) and a circular cake.
4. Make the fireworks as big as possible
Like most countries, Filipinos ring in the New Year with fireworks and firecrackers. It’s not just for the party atmosphere though, the fireworks create loud sounds that scare away evil spirits and mischievous goblins that might bring bad luck. Filipino paputok, firecrackers, come in a staggering range of shapes and forms, like the Judas Belt, the Super Lolo and the Kwitis. Fireworks and firecrackers are best, but you should make as much loud noise as possible so that means tooting on the car horn and slapping your pots and pans together too.
5. Clear your debts
By the time the clock strikes midnight, you need to have cleared all of your debts according to New Year’s tradition. If you don’t you’ll be lumbered with the same financial status all year. By the same token, you should also stuff as much new money as you can fit in your pockets and wallets as an open invitation for wealth to join you next year.
You shouldn’t spend any money on the first day of the year though. It’s best to stay indoors and avoid spending anything on New Years Day, since this encourages excellent financial management for the following year.
6. Jump around
Don’t be alarmed if every single child you see is jumping madly as the clock strikes midnight. Folklore holds that jumping will help you grow taller.
7. Open all the windows and doors
In the Philippines, at the stroke of midnight, you should open every single window and door in your house to let in all the good luck. That includes all of the cupboards, drawers and cabinets too.