Also, in case you're wondering why your Filipino neighbors are acting strangely (e.g. buying certain foods, abstaining from certain behaviors), that's because they're subscribing to years-old superstitions that have served them well in the past. If you care to know more about them, here they are.
Have 12 Round Fruits on New Year's Eve
Before New Year's Day comes, Filipinos stock up on circular fruits like oranges, grapes, watermelons, lanzones, etc. The round shape represents the shape of coins, while the number 12 symbolizes the twelve months of the year. In effect, the 12 round fruits ensure that you'll have financial luck all throughout 2016.
Some Filipinos go even further, however. In certain households, 12 is the minimum number. If you have 13 fruits or more, then your luck will be even better than everyone else's! (Of course, if you're superstitious about the number 13, then that's a different matter altogether.)
Settle All Debts
If you still have pending accounts today, you'd better settle them before January 1. Otherwise, you'll be plagued by debts for the rest of 2016 (or so the superstition goes). Still, superstition or not, being free from debt is a great feeling no matter which way you slice it.
Clean Your House Before (But Not On) New Year's Day
To make enough room in your house for good luck, clean everything up before the clock strikes 12. However, you should not clean on New Year's Day itself, because then you'll be cleaning out all the accumulated luck in your house too!
Eat Pancit Canton (Stir-Fried Noodles) on New Year's Eve
Actually, this is a Chinese tradition appropriated into Filipino culture. If you want to live a life as long as a single strand of noodle, so the superstition goes, eat pancit canton. For an idea on how to cook this delicious, easy-to-make and affordable dish, check out this recipe from Kawaling Pinoy.
Eat Biko (Rice Cake) on New Year's Eve
Another dish to eat on New Year's Eve is biko, or a rice cake made from malagkit (sticky rice), brown sugar and coconut milk. This is to ensure that good fortune will stick to you the way grains stick to each other. If you don't know how to make biko, other sticky rice recipes like bibingka will do.
Don't Eat Fish or Chicken on New Year's Eve
Bad news, fish/chicken lovers: According to Filipino tradition, it's bad luck to eat fish or chicken on New Year's Eve. Why? Since fish and chicken represent scarcity, eating them might put you in a financial quagmire this 2016.
Wear Polka Dot Outfits
Polka dots look like coins raining onto the ground. Need we explain that further?
Jump on New Year's Eve to Grow Taller
We're not sure about the rationale behind this one, but Filipino children do this every year. Once the fireworks start exploding, the little ones start jumping. The joke is that, if a child grows up short, it's because hindi sila tumalon masyado nung Bagong Taon (they didn't jump enough on New Year's).
Make Loud Noises on New Year's Eve
Like the pancit tradition, this was appropriated from Chinese culture. To drive away evil spirits from your home (because these beings love peace and quiet, apparently), make as much noise as you can. You don't have to use potentially life-threatening fireworks, of course; in fact, some condos in Makati encourage that you use safe noise-making devices like trumpets and tambourines instead.
Don't Spend Anything on New Year's Day
If you plan to buy anything for 2016, don't buy it on January 1. Aside from the fact that most establishments are closed on that day, buying anything on the first day of the year means you'll be blowing your budget for the rest of the year. Yikes!
Don't Spend Anything on the First Monday of the New Year
For 2016, the "first Monday of the New Year" would be January 4. You don't spend money on that date for the same reason you don't spend money on January 1. Kind of sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?
Don't Do Anything on the New Year That You Wouldn't Do For the Rest of the Year
If you wake up late on January 1, you'll wake up late for the rest of 2016. If you fall down the stairs on January 1, expect to have a number of falling-down-the-stairs incidents for the rest of the year. If you have a completely unintentional mishap on January 1… Well, you get the picture.
A Few More Words (Before 2016 Arrives)
These are only the tip of the iceberg. We're sure your friends from around the Philippines have more fascinating superstitions to share. If you know of any that haven't been included on this list yet, feel free to share them in the comments section below. Enjoy the rest of your holidays, and Happy New Year to everyone!