10 Pinoy New Year’s Eve superstitions

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Filipinos are a superstitious lot, and there’s no shortage of cultural do’s and don’ts that continue to be passed down from generation to generation on New Year’s Eve. Illustration by JL JAVIER

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — Change is the kind of thing that rarely happens overnight. But for at least one day, on Jan. 1, we can believe in new beginnings and fresh starts. We can resolve to lead new lives and tell ourselves that maybe, just maybe, this marks the year it all happens.

The New Year doesn’t only signify starting over fresh — it’s also a chance to make (or break) the next 364 days. And this means celebrating it right and opening yourself up to good fortune and positive thinking. Filipinos are a superstitious lot, and there’s no shortage of cultural do’s and don’ts that continue to be passed down from generation to generation on New Year’s Eve. They typically involve the things we value the most: family, food, happiness, and luck.

The past year may not have been easy for any of us, but we’re nothing if not resilient. There’s always plenty of optimism and hope to go around, and if we will it hard enough, change has to follow.

So write those resolutions and light those fireworks. Here are 10 Filipino traditions and superstitions to ring in what would hopefully be a fantastic New Year.

Jump as the clock strikes midnight.

Children are often encouraged to jump at the very first minute of the New Year — not only because they’re excited and want to reach for the fireworks in the sky, but also because it’s a belief that doing so will make them grow taller.

Have 12 round fruits at the dinner table.

The New Year’s Eve counterpart to the Christmas Noche Buena is the Media Noche, and no feast is complete without a large dish of circular fruits on display — it’s supposed to bring good fortune. The setting calls for 12 types of fruit, such as watermelon, grapes, and oranges, to stand for every month of the year. Grapes may also be hung at doorways, and the roundest grape can be put in one’s mouth at midnight for more good luck.

Wear polka dots.

The tackier, the better — basically, anything round signifies a prosperous year ahead. If polka dots aren’t your style, maybe something with large, shiny round sequins would do.

Eat pancit

Noodles like pancit and spaghetti are staples at family gatherings and celebrations, especially birthdays and the start of a new year, and it’s not just because they’re people-pleasers and childhood favorites. The significance is so obvious, it’s actually pretty clever: the length of the noodles stands for living a long life.

...and sticky rice.

Here’s something sweet to chew on: Traditional Filipino sticky rice treats like biko, puto, and kalamay are perfect New Year’s Eve desserts, because they tend to mean one of two things, depending on who you ask. Either they’ll make good fortune “stick” to you, or they’ll help strengthen your bond with your family.

Make some noise. (Okay, a lot of noise.)

Growing up, you might’ve thought the sparkly, feathery torotots and other colorful toys your parents got you were simply supposed to complement the equally loud fireworks, but they serve a more ‘practical’ purpose — they’re actually meant to scare away bad spirits.

Turn on all lights and open all doors, windows, and cabinets.

There’s definitely a recognizable pattern to these beliefs, as anyone who loves pun-based humor would notice. Turning on every light in the house signals a bright year ahead, one that’s full of joy and possibility. Meanwhile, opening every door, window, and cabinet adds to your chances of letting in the good vibes. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Don’t serve chicken or fish.

Only the best ham is served during the Media Noche, but no self-respecting host would ever cook chicken or fish on the turn of the year — they symbolize scarcity and bad luck.

Don’t clean.

Get busy making your house spotless and shiny to prep for the coming celebration, but don’t even try wiping away the smallest speckle of dust come Dec. 31. You guessed it: The act “sweeps away” your good luck.

Pay off your debts — then don’t spend a dime.

It’s widely believed that the way you start off the New Year will in turn predict how the rest of the year will go, and your financial situation is no different. If you apply the clean slate to your debts on the last day of December, replace all the bills in your wallet with fresh ones, and avoid spending at all on the first day of January, then 2018 has to be a year of wise spending and steady income.