Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year Celebration in the Philippines, by Noemi S. Rabina

For a few days before the New Year lots of sidewalk vendors will be selling different kinds of fire crackers. There is a ban on them due to accidents that have resulted in the loss of lives, limbs, or properties; still many people delight in following the traditional way of greeting the New Year. With the introduction of aerial fireworks in modern times, it became an art form. They are displayed in places where the people can safely see and enjoy.

December 31 is usually not a public holiday but most people are given the day off so that they can prepare for the New Year's Eve celebration. It is a busy day for all families preparing the food for "media noche," the midnight dinner. People are rushing to buy firecrackers.

The children have a good time blowing their toy trumpets, called "torotot." They enjoy their "watusi," a kind of small firecracker that, when rubbed on a rough surface and released, crackles into a little spark work dance.

There are some beliefs and practices that are believed to bring good luck, fortune and prosperity in the New Year:
·         The noise of the firecrackers is said to drive away the evil spirits.
·         Putting coins and money in the pockets will make the next year prosperous.
·         In the same way, wearing polka dot shirts or dresses symbolizes money.
·         Opening windows and doors, and turning lights on will make all the graces come into the house as the New Year is welcomed.
·         Some people pay off their bills at the end of the year in the hope that they will be debt free in the coming year.
·         Most people go to church before midnight to thank the Lord for all His blessings.

At the strike of 12:00 midnight, the noise becomes very loud. Fire crackers rule the sky; church bells ring; old pots and pans are clanging in homes; radios are turned on full blast as happy people sing the "Auld Lang Syne."

Blowing of cars' horns and ambulance sirens will last for full one minute. The loud noises and sounds of merry making are supposed to drive the bad spirits away. Children have to jump 12 times so that they will get taller the next year. 

When the noise stops, the air is filled with people's voices. The family starts to eat the thanksgiving feast. It is also believed that when much food is on the table, there will be sufficient food the year round. 

Some can afford to have a whole roasted pig, called "lechon" on the table. That is one Filipino delicacy. There could also be ham and homemade native cakes.  Twelve round fruits of different kinds must be on the table to signify 12 months of prosperity.

These are traditions that the Pilipino people carry along where ever they may be as they welcome the New Year. 


  1. Noemi it was interesting reading the customs and beliefs of the Filipino people at New Year's. I especially like the one about wearing polka dots because I like polka dots. Also the one about paying all one's debts by the end of the year is a good thing to do to start off a new year right. Thanks for sharing the Philippine's celebrations with us, very enjoyable.

  2. Noemi, I like the personal view you share about your countries' traditions. I can transport myself there through your lenses.

  3. Wow. It is so nice to learn the reasons behind the traditions. And you do a lovely job of enlightening us on your culture's cuustom.

  4. From Kacie:

    Noemi, my Friend
    You have really caught all the excitement in your story. I just loved it! If this is how you celebrated New Year... I'm coming with you next New Years. Just loved the business of it.
    God bless, Kacie