Filipino traditions to welcome 2021

New Year’s Eve gives families that opportunity to celebrate, complete with an impressive spread to welcome the incoming year. | AJPress Illustration by Kendrick Tan

2020 has been a turbulent year all around, offering no reprieve as it doled out concerning news and tragedies month after month.

It’s no wonder then, that everyone is eager to say goodbye to this year and welcome 2021 with boundless hope that it will be better than the last. Countries like the United Kingdom and the United States have already begun their COVID-19 vaccine campaigns, so the new year is looking a little less bleak.

Just like with Christmas, we can’t celebrate the new year the way we used to.

Restrictions are in place to keep the public from contracting COVID-19 and everyone is encouraged to stay at home.

Still, even without the usual fanfare, we Filipinos can still welcome 2021 by partaking in traditions that are supposed to help in making the new year better, happier, and more bountiful — right in our own homes. Here are some of those traditions:

1. Eating media noche

Filipinos love eating — but more than that, they love eating together with their families. New Year’s eve gives them that opportunity to celebrate, complete with an impressive spread to welcome the incoming year.

Roughly translated as “midnight,” Media Noche is a Filipino custom wherein family members, their relatives, and friends all gather together to eat and drink. The menu differs for every family but there will always be some food that remains a staple in every household such as pancit (long noodles), which represents good health and long life; and sticky rice, which represents tighter family bonds.

2. Having circles/round shapes everywhere

Filipinos and Chinese alike believe the round shape is a symbol of prosperity, so it’s common to see circles during New Year’s Eve. More often than not, you’ll see 12 round fruits displayed on the dining table (one fruit per month for a prosperous year) or people wearing polka-dotted clothes.

3. Jumping when the clock strikes 12
The most popular tradition that Filipino adults and kids do as soon as the clock strikes January 1. Jumping as high as you can is believed to be a way to help you grow taller in the new year — there’s no scientific explanation to support this belief, but it’s fun and exhilarating to do anyway.

4. Opening doors and keeping all the lights on
When the new year arrives, Filipinos would open all the doors in their houses to allow good energy and good fortune to come in, and turn on all the lights to welcome a brighter year.

5. Making loud noises to drive off evil spirits
Firework displays are a common sight in every country when they welcome the new year, but in the Philippines, fireworks light up the sky because it is believed loud sounds would scare off evil spirits that bring bad luck. Aside from this, Filipinos usually play loud music in the open, and use horns or toy instruments to produce ear-piercing noises.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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