MANILA, December 31, 2003  (MANILA TIMES) By Terrie B. Fucanan - Every New Year’s Eve, Filipino families see to it that every part of the house is ready to usher in the coming year—sheets are changed, floors are polished clean and good food is laid on the the dining table. All of these are of course done in the belief that it will bring good fortune to the home and to those who dwell in it.

Other may not believe that such practices bring good luck. But Princesse Lim Fernandez of the Yin and Yang Shop of Harmony at Mandarin Oriental, a knowledgeable Feng Shui source, says that many of the so-called Filipino New Year’s Eve traditions can bring good fortune if done properly. Below are just some of the traditions followed by Filipinos on the eve of every coming year.

Lights and firecrackers. Fireworks and firecrackers are set off in the streets during the hours leading up to midnight on New Year’s Eve. This practice was influenced by Chinese custom, as it is believed to be an effective means of warding off evil spirits.

Money-makers. The coin tradition is practiced in every home, but with variations. Some families loosely scatter coins in windows and doors on New Year’s Eve, while others hang a bag full of coins on the main door for financial stability all year round. Windows and doors are also left open to receive the coming year’s graces. Every part of the home is spic and span too–floors are polished, sheets are changed and dishes are washed clean to ensure a worry-free, more organized year for everyone. Debts are also paid on the first day of the year in the belief that there will be abundance for the rest of the year.

Wearing red clothes or something with round prints is also said to bring good fortune. For those who are into wearing crystal jewelry, Fernandez advises people to have their jewelry blessed first by a Feng Shui expert. “Doing so will balance the energies present in the stones and make them work to your advantage—your career, personal life and finances,” she said. Grapes are also hung on doors and are eaten by members of the family when the clock srikes midnight. This is also believed to bring in more money to the household.

Rounded food. A midnight feast called Media Noche is shared by the family to symbolize their hopes for a prosperous New Year. Lechon (roast suckling pig for abundance), pancit (noodles, for goodluck), grapes (for more luck), and oranges (for prosperity) should be at the table. Round-shaped foods (such as oranges, grapes and cantaloupes) are also left in the kitchen and dining table during New Year’s Eve to ensure that the family will not go hungry in the coming year. The more Chinese-oriented see to it that eight or 12 kinds of round food or fruits are on the dining table, each to signify good health, wealth and luck in the year to come.

Noises and jumping. Filipinos herald the start of the year by making lots of noise. Those who don’t want to use firecrackers opt for safer ways such as banging cooking utensils, playing musical instruments, or blowing horns. Kids are made to jump while making noises when the clock strikes 12 midnight. Old folks believe it will add an inch to one’s height.

Attracting luck in 2004

For the year 2004 however, there are some practices that must be followed in order to be more luck-specific, says Fernandez. Through the Yin and Yang shop’s Feng Shui expert and geomancer Joseph Chau, Fernandez shares us some tips on how to lure good fortune—and make it stay—throughout the year:

• No cleaning shall be done on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. All the cleaning must be done before these days so as not to “sweep” the bad luck from one’s house.

• When the clock strikes midnight or on New Year’s Day itself, every family should partake of a grand feast that includes a whole calf, pig, chicken, or turkey in it—anything with the legs and neck intact—as this symbolizes prosperity for the coming year.

• On New Year’s Eve, the head of the household should give ampao (red money envelope by the Chinese) to each member of the household, allotting two extra envelopes that would exceed the number of household members. Say, 12 envelopes must be provided for 10 members of the household. This symbolizes ending the year with money and luck. This should again be done on New Year’s Day to begin the year in abundance.

• On its eve and on New Year, do not wear clothes in all-black, all-white or dark blue colors. Instead, vibrant colors of red, orange, and pink should be worn.

• On New Year’s Eve, wear new underwear and new slippers. These “foundations” are better and stronger when new.

• Stomp your feet before you sleep on New Year to remove criticisms, bad luck and remove all the negative vibes of the past year.

• Attend the last mass of 2003 and the first mass of 2004. The last mass is a gesture of thanksgiving to the Supreme Being, while the first mass stands for asking blessing anew for the coming year.

• There should be no negative feelings and arguing on New Year’s Eve to ensure harmony in the home throughout the year.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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