by Kattryn Erryc Sayo

A much anticipated celebration in the country, New Year is considered as the happiest and noisiest occasion in the Philippines. The same with Christmas Day, Filipinos welcome New Year with different traditions- traditions that are descended from the Chinese influence, and traditions that are based from superstitious beliefs.

Media Noche

On the evening of December 31st, a bountiful feast or midnight meal is prepared to welcome the New Year, which is popularly known as Media Noche. The types of food prepared in the occasion reflect the superstitious beliefs of the Filipinos. The most common are the round fruits and sticky foods, which symbolizes fortune and strong family bond, respectively.

Mary Ann Llanes, 19, from Plaridel, Bulacan shared, “Hindi kumpleto ang New Year kapag walang bilog na prutas. Nagasasabit pa nga kami sa mga pintuan ng mga prutas eh, mga ubas, gano’n. Swerte daw kasi.”

The same tradition is also practiced by the family of Charlynne Domingo, 18, Shawn Lazar, 18, Mharizz Martin, 17, and Mirian de Ocampo, all from Plaridel, who buy different types of round fruits because of the belief that it will attract more blessings and that it symbolize money.

For Lazar and de Ocampo, sticky foods especially “kakanin” are also a part of their Media Noche.

“Hindi pwedeng walang malagkit sa’min. kahit hindi marunong gumawa si mama no’n, magpapaluto pa ‘yon kasi nga para daw close ‘yong family, importante daw ‘yon,” shared Lazar.

“We always prepare kakanin or sticky food, believing na para raw the family will always get close to one another,” said de Ocampo.

Moreover, it is also a tradition to prepare a plentiful banquet, believing that the whole year will be bountiful too.

Firecrackers, Fireworks and Noisemakers

In the Philippines, New Year celebration would not be complete without the bangs and booms of firecrackers and fireworks or “paputok”, believing that the noise drive away evil spirits. There are the Super Lolo, Pla Pla, Bawang, Sinturon ni Hudas, Jumbo Fountain, Whiste Bomb, Baby Rockets or Kuwitis, Luisis, and Watusi.

But to avoid injuries during the occasion, firecrackers especially the illegal ones have been banned by government agencies and other private organizations. The Department of Health (DOH) is the agency that heads the anti-firecracker campaign, to avoid further injuries and worst, death.

However, despite the prohibition of these firecrackers, accidents happen because of stubbornness, carelessness, ignorance of people and improper use of firecrackers.

Martin grew up celebrating New Year without using firecrackers. She said her family continues to do that up till now, for safety benefits.

“Simula po no’ng bata pa kami ‘di po kami pinapahawak or pinapagamit ng paputok for safety purposes po. May mga pulbura daw po ‘yon baka malimutan maghugas ng kamay.”

Because of this, she is not in favor of the selling of firecrackers, “Tutol po ako sa pagbenta ng mga paputok para bumaba ‘yong cases ng mga napuputukan. Pero ‘yong ibang ilegal nakakalusot pa,” said Martin.

Since her family does not tolerate the use of firecrackers during New Year, this is how they spend it with a bang, “Nanonood po ng fireworks display. Nag-iingay po kami by sounds or music.”

However, for Domingo, Llanes and Lazar, their celebration would be much more complete and happier with firecrackers.

“Every year, nakagawian na naming na gumamit ng fireworks and other pailaw, nasanay na,” said Domingo.

“Mas masaya kasi kapag may paputok, pero syempre do’n kami sa safe, ‘di naman kami pabor sa mga buwis-buhay na paputok,” said Lazar.

Other Traditions

Aside from round fruits, sticky foods, and fireworks, th use are still other traditions used in welcoming a new year.

Rose Ann Sabandal, 19, from Plaridel, said, “We wear polka dotted shirts or dresses because they symbolize money, at dapat may malalim kang bulsa na puno ng money bills and coins tapos jingle it at the stroke of midnight for good luck.”

Kristine Garcia, 19 from Plaridel shared, “I wear polka dotted clothes kasi pampaswerte raw, and we stay awake to greet the coming of the New Year.”

Moreover, Llanes do the jump at exactly 12am, believing that it will make her taller. “Tumatalon ako pag 12am na kasi sabi nila tatangkad daw. Eh gusto ko tumangkad,” said Llanes funnily.

For Domingo, “Nagpapasabog kami ng barya around the house pagtungtong ng 12 to attract daw more blessings.”

The thing is, It does not matter whether we welcome new year with various traditions or Chinese influences, what really matters is that we welcome it with gratitude, happiness and optimism.

“Wala namang mawawala kung susundin natin ‘yong mga tradisyon na ‘yan. Ang importante naman eh Masaya tayo sa pagpasok ng bagong taon,” said Llanes.

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