A fruitful New Year

A display for New Year
In England we don’t have much in the way of colourful New Year traditions. The Scots famously make more of the season, which they call Hogmanay, but in England the traditional choices are:

  1. Go out to a pub and get roaring drunk
  2. Stay in at home and get roaring drunk, while watching inane rubbish on TV
  3. Ignore the whole thing and go to bed early with earplugs in

In London there is also a tradition of going to Trafalgar Square to get half-crushed to death along with thousands of other people. In recent years the firework display along the River Thames has also drawn big crowds to the riverside. This year’s display was rather good, judging by the TV coverage.

My household (all two of us!) is half-Filipino and half-English so I have been exposed to other ways of celebrating New Year.

In the Philippines there are several New Year’s Eve traditions. Typically families and friends will congregate at home and enjoy a late night meal, the Media Noche, with festive foods such as pancit (a rich and tasty noodle dish). There should also be a display of twelve round fruits, one for each month of the year. In the Philippines the price of round fruits usually goes up after Christmas due to the increased demand. It is difficult to find twelve perfectly round fruits: I cheated a bit with our display and included banana and pineapple. My version of the display was an orderly parade but my partner produced a more creative display, putting the fruits in a couple of traditional Filipino baskets and featuring flowers and a bowl of nuts plus some Christmas decorations.

An orderly display of not-quite-round fruits

An orderly display of not-quite-round fruits

Fruits and flowers for New Year

Flowers, fruits and nuts for New Year

Another tradition is to wear something red (I think this probably derives from the Chinese tradition where red is a lucky colour) and to wear polka dots. Apparently roundness signifies prosperity.

You must wear polka dots and something red.

You must wear polka dots and something red.

On the stroke of midnight everyone makes as much noise as they can, letting off firecrackers, banging on saucepans or tin boxes or anything else to hand, blowing whistles or torotots (not quite as bad as vuvuzuelas but not far off), or just shouting. It is a fearsome noise and spectacle, with fireworks and sparklers adding a goodly dose of choking smoke to the occasion.

Torotots

Torotots

Often people will throw a handful of coins in the air which their children scramble for as they land. The kids’ screams of excitement add to the general din. All in all, it is a wild few minutes with the festivity-level turned up to FULL-ON.

This year we were in London so had a more sedate time, sitting with some Filipino friends and foods and a few polka dots and just watching the London fireworks on the TV when the time came for the countdown.

I hope you all enjoyed 2011, had a festive time upon the transition to the New Year, and are looking forward to the next twelve months that will be 2012.

About Frank Norman

I am a librarian in a biomedical research institute. I've been around a few years, long enough to know that exciting new things fall into the same familiar patterns. I'm interested in navigating a path for libraries as we slip from print through to electronic information resources.
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3 Responses to A fruitful New Year

  1. ricardipus says:

    …and a Happy New Year right back at you, Frank. 🙂

    Thanks for the insight into those traditions. Sounds much more fun than what we did (option 3 above, more or less, after I was right properly spanked at Risk by my wife and son).

  2. Happy New Year!

    Filipino New Years sounds like a blast! We spent our own at a friend’s house party on BC’s Sunshine Coast, at which I met a friend of a friend of a friend who, like me, was born in Ashington, Northumberland. Small world!

  3. Frank says:

    Thanks. Yes, it can be fun on NYE in Manila but I’m glad it only happens once a year!