Another year has gone. For most, it is filled with many successes and challenges alike. For sure, many memories have been shared throughout the past 12 months. New Year’s Eve is a way to commemorate the year, to celebrate with loved ones, to reflect, and to wish for a prosperous new year.
New Year’s celebrations tend to be festive, joyful, and filled with unique traditions. Growing up, my Filipino family’s New Year’s festivities included the following traditions:
- Family-centered: It was a tradition that the family stays together on New Year’s Eve. Whether with immediate or extended, our New Year’s Eve celebrations are traditionally centered around family.
- Having a Clean Home: We necessarily don’t like to keep a dirty home generally but for New Year’s it is imperative to do a more thorough clean of the home and start the new year fresh. Sweeping, mopping, decluttering and having fresh towels and linens.
- 12 lucky round fruits: My mom emphasized the importance of displaying 12 fruits (especially round fruits) on our table. She explained to me that for New Year’s, the round shape is good luck and represents good wealth and fortune. The number 12 represents the 12 months of the year.
- Jingle coins in your pocket: During the last minute counting down to midnight, each person would jingle piggy banks or put coins in their pockets to jingle. When the clock strikes midnight, coins would be tossed to the ground for others to gather.
- Jump at the stroke of midnight to get taller: Another tradition at midnight is to jump as high as possible. It was said that jumping as high as we can help us grow taller. (Being that I’ve been 5 foot tall since I reached adolescence, I know jumping has not realistically been helping me grow, but we still continue this fun tradition to jump for joy at midnight.
- Noisemakers: With our voices as noisemakers, party horns, pots and spoons, and jingling piggy banks our family gets loud! We cheer for the new year and the family’s volume sure is contagious.
- Food: For all Filipino celebrations in general, food is one of the main highlights. For New Year’s Eve there are several circular foods offered. Some of the ones our family would serve are:
- Ginataang bilo bilo- a sweet coconut milk stew of sticky rice balls, jackfruit, sweet potatoes, and plantains).
- Puto- a Filipino steamed sweet cake)
- Arroz caldo- a gingery rice soup with chicken and hardboiled eggs.
- Sopas – a milky chicken macaroni noodle soup with quail eggs
- Pansit or sotanghon- Not a round food dish, but the Filipino noodles represent long life. (Pansit is also traditionally served on birthdays)
- Wearing polka dots: As mentioned, circles mean good fortune, so with that, Filipinos will wear clothes with polka-dots to wish for prosperity in the new year.
These traditions are some of the greatest memories I have with my family during this holiday. I hope to continue sharing many of them with our younger generations and to make new traditions as well.
What does New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day look like for your family? Feel free to share your traditions in our comment section or on social media.
We have also created a printable activity for your child to do. It teaches how to say Happy New Year in Tagalog and to practice writing it. It also includes a second page for your child to illustrate and color what New Year’s looks like for your family.
It is a great activity to have a discussion on your family’s traditions and also a wonderful keepsake to save for the future and look back on what the New Year’s celebration looked like through the eyes of your child/children during that year. The pages can be printed in the future years too if you want to date it and see the progression of the illustrations and memories.
Whatever traditions you may have with your family and friends, we wish you a very prosperous new year! Or in Tagalog, “Manigong Bagong Taon!”