The holidays, from Thanksgiving through Christmastime, are full of tradition. Some we maintain from our childhoods, others we adopt. Still others we either create or acquire when we form our own families. The start of this New Year brings to mind a lot of the rituals, superstitions, and customs I’ve come across as we look to leave 2015 behind and make a fresh start in 2016.
Growing up in the Philippines, there was never any shortage of tradition as the year came to a close. The entire family—aunts, uncles, 11 cousins and all—gathered at the Big House to celebrate the New Year with my grandparents. We’d eat a light, early dinner in anticipation of the big midnight feast. My dad and his brothers would man the grill, and the smell of smoking meat would mix with the smell of gunpowder as neighbors prematurely lit their fireworks. Yes, buying and lighting up your own fireworks is legal, though I was always too timid to play with anything but sparklers. At midnight, everyone would hug and kiss, then sit down to eat and watch the city get bathed in light and sound.
While living in New York with my aunt and uncle, they threw coins in the air at midnight to invite prosperity in the upcoming year. Pots and pans were banged in an effort to scare any evil spirits out of the house. Other superstitions I’ve heard of are opening all doors and windows (to let in good luck), wearing polka dots (round=coins=prosperity), eating noodles (long life), cleaning absolutely everything.
Now, with a three-year old who was bleary-eyed but insistent on staying up until midnight, we held a somewhat quieter welcome to the new year. There were no fireworks save those we watched on television, and no big feast (though we did splurge on some cajun-spiced shrimp—with sauce from my husband’s absolute favorite seafood place—for dinner). We did, however, keep to an old Chinese tradition of having 13 round fruit in your house. Thirteen may be an unlucky number in the West, but not so for those of Chinese origin. The round fruits signify coins, which bring luck and prosperity. Though my family has never been particularly superstitious, and Mr. D’s family not very strictly Chinese, we thought it would be fun to hunt for 13 different kinds of fruit and put them on display. It took quite a while perusing the produce aisle at our nearby Lucky (the Asian grocery stores’ parking lots were PACKED) to get the right number of fruits, but we got there.
Here were our lucky 13 for 2016:
- Gala apples
- Red pear
- Anjou pear
- Asian pear
- Cuties (clementines)
To show just how much Filipinos love to party on New Year’s Eve, Mashable declared that we had New York, Sydney, and London beat in the fireworks department this year.