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Filipino New Year’s Eve Traditions

Another year has gone. For most, it is filled with many successes and challenges alike. 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 could would help us grow taller. (Being that I’ve been 5 foot tall since I reached adolescence, I know jumping has not really been helping me grow, but we still continue this fun tradition to jump for joy at midnight. 
  •  NoisemakersWith 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.

Tagalog Activities for the NYE Countdown

Below are several printable activities you can do with your kids to ring in the New Year!

The first set below is the New Year’s Eve Countdown Bag activities. Count down to the new year with a surprise goodie or activity that is revealed each hour. The clocks can be pasted onto paper bags that are filled with items, activities, or treats to enjoy as each hour strikes. It not only is a fun way to celebrate in anticipation of the new year, but it doubles up as an educational tool that introduces telling time in Filipino (Spanish). 

The printable also includes a chart of suggested activities to cut and slip into each bag, with a related bonus Tagalog word on each card.

Want to end the year on a positive note? It also includes a page to reflect on the positive things of the year (Although we know it sometimes is easier to come up with the obstacles and challenges of the year). Let’s shift our mindset and end our year filled with gratitude, as we approach the new year.

We have also created a printable activity for your child to do that teaches how to say and write “Happy New Year” in Tagalog. 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.

Want to count down to the New Year in Tagalog? Here are mini Countdown Cards from 10 – 1 to ring in the new year in English and Tagalog.

Watch our countdown on this Instagram post

Whatever traditions you may have with your family and friends, we wish you a very prosperous new year! Or in Tagalog, “Manigong Bagong Taon!”