New Year’s rituals
ESSENCE - Ligaya Rabago-Visaya (The Freeman) - January 5, 2019 - 12:00am

We just entered a new year. And just like any new thing, we expect the year to bring us blessings and positivity. As if we have no choice but to be optimistic that a new year will bring us good tidings. And so for us to really have positive things to happen, we resort to some rituals.


The new year comes at a certain level of extravagance. Hours before the clock strikes midnight, families gather around to bond. And in order to start the year with abundance, tables are filled with food carefully selected in order to signify certain symbolisms. Thirteen kinds of round fruits are common in the table but for ordinary Filipino families, they modify to creatively come up with affordable ways. The round shape is found to be a symbol of prosperity, as believed by Filipinos and the Chinese alike. This may sound like a broken record but modern Philippines remains home to practiced traditions attached to folk credence. For New Year’s in particular, Filipinos like to display round fruits at the dinner table, a round fruit per month in the upcoming year, and wear festive garb with polka dot patterns.

While each culture's New Year celebration has its own flavor, there are certain common themes. The period leading up to New Year's Day is a time for setting things straight: a thorough housecleaning, jumping as high as one could which is popular among children and adults alike to increase height, jingling of the coins inside the pocket, throwing of coins at the entrance doors, returning borrowed objects, reflecting on one's shortcomings, mending quarrels, giving alms.

Whatever arrangements are made, most traditions teach that they ought to be finished before midnight on New Year's Eve. As indicated by British legends, we ought not to sweep on New Year's Day, or we will clear our good fortunes away, or remove anything from the house --even trash. We just need to acquire new things to ensure bounty in the coming year. If we must carry something out, be sure to bring something else in, ideally a coin covered outside the previous night.

One descriptor normally used to portray the Filipinos is “superstitious” --elders will reveal to us different traditions rehearsed in conviction of tolerating great demeanor. One such exceptionally working on amid New Year's Eve is making boisterous sounds to welcome the new year. Numerous Filipinos trust that ear-splitting clamors will help drive out awful spirits and different components. So as to drop incident, individuals frequently swing to lighting firecrackers, or viewing lightshows and sparkler shows in hotels and parks, playing boisterous music in the open, and breaking out the solid torotot, a modest dispensable trumpet well-known among children. Different superstitions incorporate switching on every single light apparatus in the house to respect a brighter year, and keeping cabinets, doors and windows wide open to enable great vitality to come into the home.

Albeit a large number of these traditions may appear superstitions, it must be coupled with hard work and prayers, leading to positive direction. They all originate from a comparable conviction: by consummating the old year with deference and starting the new one in the manner in which we might want it to start, we set up our aims for the new year.

Regardless of whether we assemble to watch the ball drop in Times Square, set off sparklers at midnight, or ring champagne glasses with our friends and family, we are recognizing a vital change and respecting a new beginning. May our new year be rich with all of the blessings we desire.

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