“The less there is to justify a traditional custom the harder it is to get rid of it.” – Mark Twain
Filipinos are very traditional and superstitious people. In every occasion there always seem to be the pamahiin or folk beliefs that have become their or our way of life. In weddings for example, there are rituals that we could find rather pointless and outrageous like drinking water soaked with used comb and other gross stuff. There are some, however, that do not follow traditions anymore but that could mean disrespecting the elders.
Anyway, the New Year celebration is not an exemption too. Filipinos being credulous at often times, easily adapt to customs that are not really their own to start with – New Year beliefs are usually of Chinese origin while the religious side come from the Spanish. At around 10:00 pm on the night before New Year’s Day, the Holy Mass will be celebrated and it will be attended by almost everybody in the community.
In our case, we do not practice many superstitious rituals anymore since my grandmother had change of heart after learning these are “occult practices” that seem to divert us from our faith in God. While many Filipinos are still into these, some of them do not anymore believe the luck these bring but only to follow what is customary perhaps to honor the ancestors.
Okay…I’ll try my best to remember common Filipino or Cebuano New Year traditions…
Biko (sweetened rice cake or rice cake topped with caramel) – my mother used to prepare this with the belief (or the hope, I suppose) that the family stays to have a close and sweet relationship, same with the characteristics of biko being sticky and sweet. My brother joked one time and said she’d better have rugby on the table instead…now that’s sticky! Hehehe…
Pansit or sometimes spaghetti for long life.
No chicken for the fear of isang kahig, isang tuka – hand to mouth – existence or living.
Thirteen (13) kinds of round and sweet fruits for good luck – pampaswerte!
Along with the round fruits are the polka dots!!! When I was young, Lola (Grandma) would insist on buying everyone dotted clothes! I used to have that white and red dress that I loved for the bag that came with it. They say it’s for money as dots represent the coins…so the next time, we might consider big stripes for paper bills (or checks?)!
Papa would turn on all the lights at home. I actually forgot why he’d do this. He will also start his motorcycle…just start it.
The noise barrage! Hahaha, Mama would have a saucepan and a ladle, I would bring out my piggy bank and fill my pockets with lots of coins (so will my brothers, sister, and cousins), and all else that make noise except firecrackers. In my entire life, we never bought firecrackers to welcome the year…Papa would rather buy food with the money. We would shout and laugh and scream Happy New Year!!!
Along with the shouting too is the jumping so that we will grow tall. Now, I just to do it for fun (or to express excitement even when it’s not New Year!). 🙂
But after all the noise, we settle down and prepare ourselves to be solemn. To start the year right, Pa would gather us around and we face the altar. Then we’d begin to pray the rosary and personal prayers for a good and blessed year ahead.