While being superstitious is one of the top Filipino characteristics, some if not most modern Filipinos now recognize how absurd a number of these superstitions are. A lot have let go of these beliefs, and if not, at least skeptical. But if there’s a time where the line between superstitions and traditions is blurred in the Philippines, it’s the new years.
These superstitions mostly stem from Chinese beliefs, and because the Chinese are perceived as very lucky in the Philippines because of their ability to attract money, hence are basically synonymous to being negosyante, the nation followed suit. These are the top 10 Filipino superstitions followed in the new years.
- DISPLAYING ROUND FRUITS ON THE TABLE
The presence of circular objects is something that cannot be missed at a Filipino household during the new years. This is because circles are considered a lucky shape and placing it everywhere means you are going to attract good things for the rest of the year.
As believed, the shape represents continuity because it does not have a start or an end. Apples, oranges, grapes, and the like overflow all Filipino tables at this time of year.
- CHICKENLESS TABLE
There is an old Filipino saying that goes “isang kahig, isang tuka”. This denotes the life of living paycheck to paycheck, earning some to spend it all at once. This superstition is not as followed as the others on the list, but some still consider chickens as bad luck as chickens feed from the ground, symbolizing struggle.
- MEDIA NOCHE
Filipinos go all their way to have enough to have a handa during the new years, no matter how little. Greeting the new years with a lot of food on the table is to be inviting good spirits, basically making the food as an offering for them to bless the house with.
Before the clock strikes 12, the table will already have been completed. After the fireworks and warm new year greetings, families welcome the year by eating.
- VISITING THE CHURCH
As a heavily Catholic country, it isn’t a surprise that Filipinos still practice their faith on the brink of the new year. Families go to church to pray for blessings in the year to come, and to express their gratitude for the ones they already received.
- WEARING POLKA DOTTED CLOTHES
I told you the tradition of circles will go beyond fruits. Wearing dotted clothing is one of the most commonly practiced superstitions because of its abundance of circles. Polka dots symbolize fortune, as Pythagoras himself considered circles as the most perfect shape. It is the symbol of eternity, magic, and in earlier times, the triumph of a hunt.
In the words of Yayoi Kusama, polka dots are “round, soft, colorful, senseless and unknowing, polka dots become movement.”
- JUMPING HIGH WHEN THE CLOCK STRIKES 12
As someone who was once told to just drink Cherifer instead, jumping when the clock struck 12 was something everybody did in the neighborhood. This practice is believed to make someone tall, hence, mostly kids who have yet to get their growth spurts eagerly participate in the superstition.
- EATING PANCIT FOR A LONGER LIFE
This is one of the biggest Chinese influences in the Philippines. Pancit, or any noodle at all, represents long life because of their length. Being one of the staple dishes in Filipino cuisine, it isn’t hard to accidentally participate in this tradition either way. This is believed to bring luck and another year of good health.
- COIN DISPLAYS
From actual coins to candy coins, it’s not surprising to see money being put on plates on Filipino tables. In a similar principle with preparing a feast to attract good spirits, coins are put forth for good fortune, as well as to serve as an offering. Filipinos also put coins in their pockets for good fortune, and to shake during midnight for additional noise.
- CREATING LOUD NOISE
If some people say they don’t believe in the other traditions, this might be one they truly cannot escape. There is nothing louder than when 12 am strikes on the 1st of January, wherever you may be in the country. Filipinos do everything, and I mean everything, to make noise at this time of the year. Families stock up on pyrotechnics, horns, and anything you can think of.
Fireworks are always a show stealer because of how beautifully they light up the sky and how noticeable their loudness is. This tradition is made to drive away evil spirits, and Filipinos hold onto this belief so hard that they clank their cooking pans together or honk their vehicles for maximum noise.
- OPENING DOORS AND WINDOWS
Opening doors for Filipinos in the new years is a figurative practice that is done literally as it says. Opening doors means to open your doors to let good spirits and positive vibes in one’s home, bringing in blessings and good fortune.
Whether or not these practices have any actual impact in the way Filipinos think they do, they still have deep symbolic value considering how they make up our new years. They bring families together, and make sure that there is never either a dull moment or corner as we welcome the year.