From the top clockwise: Cantaloupe (milon), red grapefruit, mango, kiwi, nectarine, tomato (yes, it’s a fruit), fuzzy pear, lemon, navel orange, avocado, Asian pear, delicious apple, grapes.
I was at the Fruit and Vegetable Section of Superstore with my son Ryan on the morning of New Year’s Eve when I saw my friend Marissa.
“Happy New Year!” She greeted me.
“Happy New Year, too.” I said. “Are you also collecting 13 fruits for New Year’s Eve?”
“Not 13, only 12. Twelve months, right?”
“No, 13. Lucky 13.”
Well, there goes a variation of this Filipino tradition of gathering fruits that are round on New Year’s Eve. This is believed to bring good luck. The round shape represents money. Another tradition is wearing polka dots.
Marissa was with her 16-year old son. She told me that he thought that this tradition was dumb. Ouch! But considering the high price of these fruits at this time of the year, the kid does have a point.
My kids have never told me that any of the Filipino traditions that I observe are dumb. Do they also think so? Are they just being nice to me by not saying anything? But they are following along with me. Like for instance, we always light sparklers (lusis) on New Year’s Eve. And they enjoy it. We light lusis instead of firecrackers (paputok) as people do in the Philippines. Filipinos believe that one should greet the New Year with a bang. Due to safety reasons, some people choose to make noises by banging pots and pans and blowing horns.
When I was still a little girl, our elders encouraged children to jump at the stroke of midnight so that they would grow tall. (Unfortunately, it didn't work for me.) My children jumped when we greeted 2000, but that was it. Another tradition is gathering for the Media Noche (midnight meal). We do this every year. So my kids were up until midnight while we watched on TV the countdown on Times Square, NY. I always cook sotanghon (bean thread) soup, which my kids enjoy as well.
Now that I am an adult, I know that there is no logic behind these traditions. But we grew up with these customs and beliefs. And I guess we hold on to them to cherish our childhood and our roots.