The Philippines is full of traditions when it comes to spending holidays with family and friends. Celebrating New Year’s Eve is particularly rich in ritual and superstition. Understanding this aspect of Filipino culture is important when you’re outsourcing some of the work for your company or you own a business with offshore locations in the Philippines.
On Christmas Eve, Filipinos have their Noche Buena dinner with the whole family. The ritual is repeated on New Year’s Eve. This time it’s called Media Noche, which is Spanish for “midnight” in reference to the time the old year passes and the new year arrives. Dinner is served when it’s almost midnight and families cheer each other a “Happy New Year!”
There’s more variety in dishes served on New Year’s Eve. There are pork and beef dishes, salads, and cakes. But, it’s important that the menu includes spaghetti or pancit, which is a symbol for long life because of the long strands of pasta or noodles. Many Filipinos also drink wine or champagne to greet the new year.
12 Kinds of Round Fruits
It’s a Spanish tradition on New Year’s Eve to eat 12 grapes, one for each time the grandfather clock chimes or when the church’s bell rings. Filipinos adopted this tradition and added a layer of Chinese feng shui symbolism on top of it.
Each fruit has a positive meaning. For example, oranges look like they’re covered in gold, which represents money. Grapes and avocado symbolize luxury and prosperity. They’re purple and green, which are colors that symbolize royalty (purple) and money (green). Meanwhile, apples are named “ping” in Chinese, which means harmony.
And so, Filipinos have become a bit obsessed in putting together a basket or platter of 12 kinds of round fruits.
Fireworks and Loud Noises
It’s important for Filipinos to light up some fireworks and barrage the neighborhood with loud noises. Fiery explosions and loud noises are believed to drive away bad luck and attract good fortune in the coming year.
Unfortunately, many Filipinos – young and old – have been victims of accidents related to mishandling of fireworks. To avoid these accidents, families have chosen to loudly blow some plastic trumpets, play loud upbeat music from huge speakers, and press the horns of their vehicles at the stroke of midnight.
Keeping All Lights On and Drawers Open
It’s a tradition for Filipinos to light up their houses from Christmas to New Year. It’s a way to attract good fortune and keep bad luck away. It’s also a way to drive away bad spirits that may put one’s health in danger. Keeping drawers open when the clock strikes twelve is another way to let good vibes and prosperity in.
Filling Your Pockets with Coins and Wearing Polka Dots
Filipinos keep several coins in their pockets when midnight comes. They also make sure they’re wearing a shirt or dress with polka dots. Both practices signify money and material abundance.
New Year’s Eve, just like Christmas, has become an important celebration for the Filipinos. These New Year’s Eve superstitions and traditions may seem amusing, but these practices have become part of the cultural identity of this nation. Happy New Year to you all!