Culture & Heritage

New Year in the Philippines

Written by Patrick

New Year is a major event in the Philippines.  Most Filipinos begin celebrating on New Year’s Eve which is December 31 and continue through January 1.  Family and friends gather together to welcome the new year by eating, drinking, singing, dancing, and making noise to drive away evil spirits.  The midnight meal, locally known as Media Noche, calls for various Filipino favorite dishes including lechon, pork barbecue, grilled chicken, Filipino-style spaghetti, lumpia, pancit, macaroni salad, fruit salad, and even rice cakes.

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Filipino New Year Traditions

Wearing Polka Dots is a Filipino New Year Tradition

The following are common Filipino New Year traditions: 

  • Make loud noise to drive away evil spirits – In addition to pyrotechnics, other ways to make loud noise during New Year include car horn and torotot (hornpipe) as well as frying pans, pots, and tin cans.
  • Round-shaped foods on the table – Influenced by Chinese, Filipinos believe that round is a symbol for prosperity and fortune hence the round-shaped fruits as the centerpiece of the New Year festivities. The number of fruits vary from 12 to 14 but regardless of the number, it doesn’t really matter as long as it’s round.
  • Media Noche – It’s a midnight meal on New Year’s Eve to welcome the New Year.
  • Fill pockets with coins – Filling pockets with coins and shaking them when the clock strikes 12 is believed to bring good fortune.
  • Wear polka dots – Wearing clothes with polka dots print is common during New Year’s Eve to attract money and fortune.
  • Food containers should be full – Filipinos believe that when they welcome the new year abundantly, their lives will be prosperous throughout the year. Hence they make sure that their food containers, particularly rice, salt, and water containers, are full.
  • Open doors and windows, turn on all the lights – Opening doors and windows, and turning all the lights to bring in good fortune and positive vibes.
  • Pay debts off – Starting the New Year debt-free means you will be debt-free the rest of the year.
  • Avoid spending on January – Not spending a single peso on the first day of the year leads to better financial status.
  • Eat pancit – Pancit, spaghetti, and other long noodles symbolizes good health and long life.
  • Jump high at midnight – Commonly applicable to children, old folks believe that children should jump as high as they can when the clock strikes 12 helps them grow taller.

Filipino New Year’s Day Superstitions

Filipino New Year's Day Superstitions: Clean the house before the year ends

The following are some common Filipino New Year superstitions: 

  • Avoid spending a single peso on the first day of the year.
  • Washing and combing the hair brings bad luck.
  • Clean the house before the year ends, not on New Year’s Day to avoid sweeping and throwing away good fortune.
  • Don’t eat chicken and fish because they symbolize scarcity.  This one is not followed by everyone though.

Philippine New Year’s Eve: 10 Best Places To Experience It

New Year in Antipolo

Caption:  New Year in Antipolo | Image Source

The following are 10 of the Best Places to Experience New Year’s Eve in the Philippines: 

  • SM Mall of Asia – See celebrity performances, special sales promotions, marching bands, and pyro displays.
  • Rizal Park – Have a picnic in the park as you wait for the display of fireworks to welcome the New Year.
  • Quezon Memorial Circle – Witness local celebrities performances and join the New Year countdown.
  • Eastwood City Mall – Free concert of some of the biggest names in the music country.
  • Boracay – Join crazy countdown parties at the world-famous island.
  • Cebu City – This is the place to be for fabulous and extravagant parties outside Metro Manila.
  • Tagaytay – Peaceful and relaxing retreat destination to start the year right.
  • Subic – New Year adventures which include yachts, water sports, safaris, ocean parks, and inflatable water playgrounds.
  • Iloilo River Esplanade – New Year countdown beside the river.
  • Antipolo – Watch fireworks from a distance … and in peace.

Where to Celebrate New Year’s Eve in Manila to Ring In the New Year

New Year in Mall of Asia

Caption:  New Year in Mall of Asia | Image Source

  • The Peninsula – Elegant and stylish New Year
  • The Peak at Grand Hyatt Manila – Watch fireworks from the tallest building in the country
  • Resorts World Manila – Luxurious dinner and party at the largest hotel ballroom in the country
  • Okada Manila – Property-wide celebration with the biggest OPM artists of the year
  • Bonifacio Global City – New Year’s Eve at the high street
  • I’M Hotel – 360-degree view of the metro skyline
  • Quezon Memorial Circle – Marvelous New Year’s eve with light shows, 3D mapping, and world-class pyrotechnic display
  • SM Mall of Asia – Celebrity performances, special sales promotions, marching bands, and pyro displays
  • Solaire – Concert with free-flowing wine and fine dining
  • Eastwood City – Star-studded performances until midnight

Where to Watch Fireworks on New Year’s Eve in the Philippines

Where to Watch Fireworks on New Year's Eve in the Philippines
  • Luneta Park
  • Quezon Memorial Circle
  • Outdoor Bars 
    • Antidote (Roof deck, I’M Hotel), 
    • Straight Up (Roof deck, Seda BGC), 
    • White Moon Bar by Hotel H20, 
    • 42nd Floor (Columbus, Discovery Suites Manila), 
    • Vertigo Pool Deck Bar (Luxent Hotel)
  • Antipolo
  • SM Mall of Asia

How Do YOU Celebrate New Year’s Day?

How Do YOU Celebrate New Year's Day?

The New Years’ holiday is often marked by fireworks, parades, and reflection upon the last year while looking ahead to the future’s possibilities.  Many people celebrate New Year’s in the company of loved ones, involving traditions meant to bring luck and success in the upcoming year.

New Year’s Day Resolutions and Traditions

New Year’s Day Resolutions and Traditions

While celebration varies all over the world, common traditions include:

  • Making resolutions or goals to improve one’s life.
  • Common resolutions concern diet, exercise, bad habits, and other issues concerning personal wellness.  A common view is to use the first day of the year as a clean slate to improve one’s life.
  • A gathering of loved ones: Here you’ll typically find champagne, feasting, confetti, noise makers, and other methods of merriment, fireworks, parades, and concerts.
  • Famous parades include London’s New Year’s Day Parade and the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California.
  • Superstitions concerning food or visitors to bring luck.

Final Thoughts 

2020 has been a difficult year for everyone around the world due to the CoronaVirus pandemic. As a new year approaches … I think we can all agree that we are hopeful for 2021 to be a better year than the past and for things to return to normal.

How do YOU celebrate New Years when in the Philippines?

About the Author


Patrick is an entrepreneur, digital nomad, explorer, and photographer. Patrick is always in search of fun and adventure. He is well travelled throughout the world, and although location independent, his home base is Phoenix, Arizona in the USA. Patrick loves island lifestyle which is no wonder why he is so interested in spending time in the Philippines with it’s over 7,000 islands. Patrick created this site to share his knowledge of and experiences in the Philippines with Filipinos as well as other foreigners.

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