05 January 2012

New Year Pamahiin

When I phoned my Nanay in the Philippines last 31 December to greet them a Happy New Year, the first advice she gave us was not to serve chicken that night and on New Year's Day.  Why?  Because of the nature of the chicken which is "kahig-tuka" (literally scratch and peck) - which, in the Filipino allegory, symbolizes poverty.  So we should not serve chicken to avoid being "kahig-tuka" for the entire 2012.

So we did as advised.  Interestingly enough, when we visited friends the following day their mother also said the same thing about serving chicken on that auspicious day.  This led to an animated discussion about many businesses losing money on those two days (KFC and the many lechon manok and chicken inasal establishments in the Philippines).

I became increasingly aware - especially now that we are not in the Philippines - of the many traditions that we have for New Year's celebrations.  One look at Facebook and I see a number of these being actively practiced - and enjoyed!  The red theme and round fruits are especially prolific.


See how many of these pamahiin you are familiar with, and how many of these you practised as 2011 drew to a close.  Comments in parenthesis are my own observations, feel free to share your own thoughts)
  • Wear red on New Year's Eve (I think it's because red means prosperity... must be a tradition adapted from the Chinese
  • Use of noisemakers and firecrackers to usher in the New Year to drive away the bad spirits (also adapted from the Chinese, although the bad spirit part has been blurred to some degree and people light up fireworks for the entertainment value sans the danger involved)
  • Have 12 different kinds of round fruits on the dining table (believed to attract good luck and wealth - round fruits = round coins.  This has led to vendors increasing the price of such fruits due to demand.  We loved fruit-hunting back in the Philippines; there isn't a lot of variety here to merit such an effort)
  • Make sure your rice container is filled to the brim as the New Year comes around - this spells abundance
  • Be at home to greet the New Year (I guess it's because a house with nobody in it is a gloomy house and that's a strange way to start the new year)
  • For the kids: jump, jump and jump at the strike of 12!  This is to ensure that they become taller in the new year.
  • Armed with lots of coins, throw some from the main door into the living room, and throw some coins into the  other rooms as well.  This is for prosperity.  Coins taken from this are kept for good luck.
  • And not to forget... don't serve chicken!
Note: This also appears in the Definitely Filipino blog. Another note: I had a feeling of deja vu when I was writing this; it's like I have written a similar blog post before. And I have. There are a couple of new things here though, so still worth a read :-)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...