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Brainstorm: The Next Generation | Old New Year traditions and new ones

The start of every New Year brings with it HOPE.

The hope that the coming year will be better than the last one, that it will bring prosperity, better health and less life challenges. In pursuit of these hopes and dreams, people come up with New Year Traditions.

When they celebrate their Chinese New Year, our brothers from the Middle Kingdom have a tradition of lighting fireworks so that the noise and smoke will chase away the bad spirits, or bad luck.

All over the world, there are strange New Year traditions all in pursuit of better hopes, no matter how irrational.

In many countries in South America, its all about underwear, those who are looking for love wear red undies while those who are hoping for more money wear yellow or gold ones. I wonder what those wearing green are hoping for, maybe to grow something that is too small.

The Danes of Denmark, for one reason or another, throw plates at the doors of the houses of family and friends. Maybe it has something to do with the “roundness” of plates to symbolize money again. Whatever the reason is, I’m sure plate companies are very happy about it.

One of the strangest ones is probably the “Takanakuy Festival” in Peru where, on New Year’s Day, competing men face each other and try to bash each other senseless with bare fists. Seems to me to be a throwback to caveman days, and gorillas for that matter, that males would fight over females to ensure the proliferation of the strongest of the species……. “I, Tarzan…… You…..Jane!

We, Filipinos have our own, as well as imported, New Year traditions such as to have kids (or vertically challenged people) jump up as high as possible at the stroke of midnight in the hope that they will get taller, to wear polka dot clothes and eat round food to supposedly attract money (we got this from the Chinese also), eating sticky rice dishes to strengthen family ties and, my favorite one, to come up with “New Year’s Resolutions” that will likely be broken even before the first two months of the year are up.

I even remember the practice to avoid chicken dishes during the New Year’s Eve “media noche” to avoid having a “isang kahig, isang tuka” existence. At the least, I know that chickens are happy about this although I’m sure lechon manok business owners are not.

While I do not see anything wrong with sticking with harmless traditions to get a boost of morale from the “magicks” of appeasing the gods, or see some kind of fresh start for the coming year, I would hope that we, Filipinos, will start having more practical traditions that will really help improve our lives.

Maybe open a bank account on the first business day of the New Year to save money in, or plant a tree each New Year’s Day for a better environment or even to take the day to forgive those you feel have wronged you in the past year so you will have more peace of mind and less stress for the coming year. Things like this or any other helpful practice that you could think of.

As it is, while there is no cost to hoping and praying for a better year ahead it will truly be for the best if we actually act and do things to improve our lot rather than to just pin our hopes on sparing the chicken or wearing red polka dot underwear.


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