New Year’s Eve is a festive occasion across the world, but Filipinos always put their own twist when it comes to celebrations. For Filipinos, this holiday is all about sumptuous food, good company, and gratitude for the year that is about to end and hopeful anticipation for the year that is about to begin.
Most of all, it’s the perfect time to bond with family and friends—with some even traveling thousands of miles just to celebrate at home. To make sure that each Filipino family greets the new year at peak health and happiness, safety should remain a top priority in everyone’s minds.
Starting the Year Right
The way Filipinos celebrate Media Noche or Bisperas ng Bagong Taon draws from a hodgepodge of Spanish, Chinese, and Western influences. Many of these traditions are meant to bring prosperity, success, and happiness to the families who observe them. For example:
- Preparing a big holiday feast to be eaten at the stroke of midnight. The saying is, if you start the New Year eating plenty of good food, you’ll spend the rest of the year in abundance.
- Wearing polka-dotted shirts or dresses. The circles or dots represent money or fortune. This tradition has since been updated to wearing striped clothing to represent cash!
- Ensuring that at least 12 kinds of round fruits are present at the dining table by New Year’s eve. Said to be an originally Chinese tradition, the fruits symbolize wealth, prosperity, and good fortune.
- Setting off fireworks to ring in the New Year. Some claim this drives away bad luck and evil spirits.
Staying Safe during the New Year
Most Filipino New Year traditions emphasize health and prosperity, yet the irony is that in our enthusiasm to celebrate, we sometimes sacrifice those two things. To really ring in the New Year in full health, make sure to practice these four safety tips:
1. Avoid lighting fireworks.
For a time, Filipinos have considered fireworks synonymous with New Year’s Eve. However, we are reminded every year that lighting fireworks can lead to spending Media Noche at the hospital, if not careful. Many Filipinos have now understood the safety risks of fireworks, and they have lessened or avoided setting off firecrackers completely.
In fact, the Department of Health reports that there has been an 80% drop in firecracker-related injuries because of this. So if you don’t want to spend New Year’s Eve being attended to by emergency medical services, it would be best to stay away from explosive fireworks.
2. Watch what you eat
The lavish Media Noche isn’t just a danger to your diet; it can also be a danger to your health if you overindulge.
Avoid indulging in overly fatty and sugary foods. Prepare ahead by cooking or ordering meals with plenty of vegetables and fiber. Substitute sodas with unsweetened or organic juices. Make sure that you also avoid food poisoning by heating and reheating food properly, and refrigerating leftovers promptly. If you’re cooking for guests, take the time to ask about any possible food allergies.
3. Don’t drink and drive
If you’re going to go out to celebrate and drink, make sure you’ve arranged for a designated driver, taxi, or car hire service. Holiday traffic and alcohol intoxication don’t mix well. This could lead to accidents that you certainly don’t want to deal with at the start of a new year.
To be on the safe side, drink moderately. The New Year is all about celebrating, so you’ll want to be awake and sober enough to do it with your family, and actually remember the memories. Pacing yourself can help prevent intoxication and alcohol poisoning while making sure that you can go home safely.
4. Stay alert and aware of your surroundings
Whether you’re going out or staying home, you must remain vigilant and aware of what’s going on around you. If you’re celebrating away from home, make sure that your friends or family stick close to each other so as not to lose anyone in the crowd.
Keep your phone and wallet secure, and try not to go anywhere alone. Unfortunately, crime doesn’t take holidays off. And with folks busy during the New Year celebrations, this event tends to draw unsavory characters looking for someone to target.
For many Filipinos, New Year’s Eve traditions and celebrations are indispensable. Following customs and celebrating the event set the tone for the rest of the year, while giving hope for the year ahead. However, many traditions are now being modernized and are going through some changes. Many families prefer going out to eat at restaurants rather than slaving away to prepare lavish home-cooked feasts.
Some, thinking of the safety and health of their family, have exchanged lighting fireworks at home to watching pyrotechnic shows at the local plaza or mall instead. Despite these changes, what remains is the emphasis on being with friends, family, and loved ones during this festive time. We Filipinos always aim to start the New Year on the right foot, and you can do this by staying safe and avoiding untoward incidents.
However, in case of any emergencies, Makati Medical’s Emergency Department is available 24/7. Reach them at +632 8888 8910 or go directly to the Emergency Department to get immediate medical attention.