Regardless of which part of the world you live in or which country you were born, part of your cultural upbringing will always include traditions and superstitions. Traditions, for the most part, are beliefs or behaviors that have a certain significance with origins in the past. These are passed down, ensuring that they will continue on to future generations.
For Filipinos, most common traditions are linked to the Catholic faith such as the Simbang Gabi and Pabasa during Holy Week. Another is how old people are revered, by saying “po” and “opo,” as well as the “pagmano.”
Superstitions, on the other hand, do not sit well with Christianity. Described as a belief or notion not based on any particular reason on knowledge, a superstition sometimes causes irrational fear of what is unknown or mysterious. This is why the Catholic Church considers superstitions to be sinful, in the sense that it denotes a lack of trust in God.
However, both are an essential part to the Filipino culture. While most traditions are practiced the whole year, there are superstitions Filipinos follow as they welcome a new year. While many of these beliefs are influenced by the Chinese, Filipinos still take these beliefs at heart to ensure that the new year is a prosperous one.
1. Wear polka dots, or anything round as it signifies prosperity. The more colorful (like red and gold), the better.
2. Prepare 12 round fruits, one for each month of the coming new year. (Filipinos usually have watermelon, cantaloupe, orange, apple, chico, lanzones, grapes, atis or cherimoya, caimito or star apple, mangosteen, santol, plum, persimmon, peach, cherries, etc.)
3. Debts must be paid off, and fill your wallet/purse with fresh money bills.
4. Scatter coins around the house. This is supposed to ensure that finances will be better for the coming year.
5. Make a lot of noise to scare away evil spirits. In the Philippines, people light firecrackers, play loud music or just bang on pots and pans.
6. Turn on all lights so that the coming year is bright.
7. Serve something sticky (like rice or something made with rice like biko or suman) and long like noodles (pancit). Sticky food is associated to having a closely-knit family, while noodles signify a long life.
8. Don’t serve chicken or fish, as they are associated with the scarcity of food. Chicken is actually connected to the Filipino saying, “Isang kahig, isang tuka,” describing how they will scrounge the earth to find food.
9. Open all doors, windows, cabinets and drawers to let good fortune in.
10. Jump 12 times at midnight to increase your height.
11. Don’t sweep or clean anything, as it may take away the good fortune that will come in.
(LA Midweek December 24, 2014 MDWK pg. 3)