MANILA, Philippines - Filipinos have traditionally observed serving certain food items such as round-shaped fruits on New Year's eve, as influenced by the Chinese.
The belief that certain foods bring luck and good fortune is shared by many, but there are some who join the "fad" not knowing the real reason behind it.
Chinese entrepreneurs Gerard and Jeric Chua of famed hopia maker Eng Bee Tin talked to dzMM's "Todo-Todo, Walang Preno" program on Wednesday to give light to the meaning behind the tradition of using certain foods at this time of the year.
1. Round-shaped fruits: Eight, and not 12 or 13, round-shaped fruits must be served. "8 lang talaga ang number of fruits kasi 8 ang lucky number ng mga Chinese. It means infinity," said Gerard.
Round fruits to welcome the New Year. Credit: Hector Pascua, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau
2. Pineapple fruit on windows and doors: Due to its numerous "eyes", the pineapple symbolizes an eye for successful career and opportunities.
3. Tikoy: "Ang tikoy kasi malagkit, matamis at bilog. Malagkit symbolizes unity in the family all year round. Matamis symbolizes close relationships, and bilog, ibig sabihin ay pera," Gerald explained.
4. Fortune/flower cake: It is believed to bring about the blooming of character, personality and relationship among family members.
5. Spring Rolls: These symbolize unity, cooperation and understanding in the family all-year round.
6. Hopia. The bean-filled pastry hopia symbolizes hope and eternity.
7. Even numbers: All food items must come in even numbers except for the number 4. “Four kasi sa Chinese ay 'si', meaning death. ’Yung 9 naman, inverted 6. Omen number ang 666 kaya ayaw talaga ng mga Chinese,” said Gerard.
The Chua brothers, also volunteer firefighters, debunked various food myths.
1. Myth: Serving chicken or any poultry product on Media Noche, the traditional New Year's eve feast, will bring poverty and hardships.
“Hindi naman totoo ‘yun. Sa panahon ngayon, lagi nang inihahanda 'yung chicken sa New Year,” said Jeric.
2. Myth: Don't serve fruits with black seeds as these will bring bad fortune.
The Chua brothers said that the color of a fruit’s seed will never determine your fortune.
3. Myth: Serving shrimps and prawns during Media Noche brings bad luck for these are known to be bottom dwellers.
The brothers said that prawns symbolize prosperity and good health.
Gerard and Jeric reminded the public not to be overly attached to traditions.
“Para sa amin, hindi naman talaga importante na sundin iyon. Basta sama-sama buong pamilya at may nakakain ay sasagana naman for the next year,” Gerard ended.