Noche Buena levels up

Published December 21, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Sol Vanzi

Filipinos around the world will be up at midnight on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve to unite with family and friends and partake in special meals while preserving traditions handed down through generations.

GOOD FOOD FOR THE GOOD NIGHT — Getting ready to serve the stuffed lechon from Café Ilang-Ilang at The Manila Hotel. (Noel B. Pabalate)
GOOD FOOD FOR THE GOOD NIGHT — Getting ready to serve the stuffed lechon from Café Ilang-Ilang at The Manila Hotel. (Noel B. Pabalate)

Noche Buena is served after the last Simbang Gabi, culminating the dawn mass novena to mark the birth of Jesus Christ.

Media Noche is the superstition-laden gathering around a bountiful table to say goodbye to the old year and usher in the new year.

Religious clans observe Noche Buena and require all members of the family to attend, no matter where they come from.

The more modern families prefer to meet at midnight on Dec. 31, in the belief that it would mean close family ties
throughout the coming year.

Virtual reunions

These days, with the Filipino diaspora separating husbands, mothers, and children, millions of Filipino families will get together for Noche Buena and Media Noche by teleconferencing via Skype using their cell phones or computers.

Among the images they will share online are special dishes that they normally do not serve for their daily meals—Edam cheese (keso de bola), ham, embutido (pork meatloaf), morcon (stuffed rolled beef), rellenong bangus, and native kakanin made of rice and root crops.

My grandmother used to spend hours making tamales and antala for Noche Buena take-home packages.

She would take some to our godparents on Christmas Day when we went to receive our annual gifts.

Dots and happy hues

Media Noche is a much bigger deal for some families steeped in eastern and western traditions as their beliefs dictate what to wear, what to eat, and what not to do when welcoming the New Year.

Polka dots and circles are believed to signify prosperity, money, and good fortune. Polka dots on clothing are thus very popular during the season.

The majority avoid sad colors, such as black, gray, and lilac, the color of mourning in churches during Lent.

Each one has to wear something new—shoes, a scarf, ribbon, underwear, or any article of clothing. move sideways and not forward.

On the other hand, pork in the form of ham or lechon is a must.

Pork means prosperity. Sticky rice, which signifies strong family ties, is also prepared. So are noodles (for long life), lumpia (for harmony), cheese (it signifies the color of gold), and fish (their scales look like silver coins).

No empties

At the stroke of midnight, no containers should be empty. These include wallets, food containers, salt jars, water jugs. Oil, sugar, coffee, rice, or anything essential must be in stock too.

Clothing racks should be in order.

The dirty clothes hamper should be clean, empty, and upside down. The sink should have no dirty plates, pots, or pans.

Refrigerator shelves should be clean and loaded with daily necessities.

Going for round fruits

Round fruits become very expensive as New Year approaches.

A new tradition requires a basket of 10, 12, 13, or 14 round fruits on the table for Media Noche.

Individual beliefs vary. Some require the consumption of the fruits while others say displaying them on the buffet table is sufficient enough to assure good luck in the coming year.

Thorny fruits like pineapple and durian are avoided, for thorns symbolize difficulties. Cactus and dragon fruit have (so far) not yet been added to the thorny list.

Food for fortune

Strict rules are being followed in making the Media Noche menu. No chicken is allowed because chicken scratches the ground for food. The same goes for crabs because they move sideways and not forward.

On the other hand, pork in the form of ham or lechon is a must. Pork means prosperity. Sticky rice,
which signifies strong family ties, is also prepared. So are noodles (for long life), lumpia (for harmony), cheese (it signifies the color of gold), and fish (their scales look like silver coins).

No empties

At the stroke of midnight, no containers should be empty. These include wallets, food containers, salt jars, water jugs. Oil, sugar, coffee, rice, or anything essential must be in stock too.

Clothing racks should be in order. The dirty clothes hamper should be clean, empty, and upside down. The sink should have no dirty plates, pots, or pans. Refrigerator shelves should be clean and loaded with daily necessities.

Keep the luck in

Windows are opened wide to let the cool wind blow in good fortune and prosperity. Doors are closed to keep the luck from leaving. No one is allowed to sweep the floor until morning, to keep the blessings from being swept away.

Overnight and all day the next day, no one is supposed to spend any money or purchase anything. All debts have to be paid.

Borrowing and lending money and articles of value are not allowed on New Year, beginning at midnight.

Lights and sounds

Bright lights and merry sounds are essential during Media Noche celebrations.

With the recent restrictions on fireworks, families have to resort to new technology such as virtual fireworks on TV screens and electronic firecrackers.

 
CLICK HERE TO SIGN-UP
 

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

["news","news"]
[2075267,2847272,2847267,2847258,2847264,2847243,2847246]