New Year is Where the Heart is by Sabrina Cortez

It is 12:00 midnight. Noise becomes deafening; church bells ring; city skies explode in gold, pink, green and blue as kids and families gape in awe. The animated banging and clanging of pots and pans increase; the karaoke stops for the one full minute — vehicle horns fill the air.

Chances are you will stay awake in the lead up and aftermath festivities to ring in the New Year.

To demonstrate their jubilation, people are cheering, playing loud music, igniting firecrackers or blowing feverishly into cardboard or plastic horns that we know too well as torotot.

You’ve probably never seen a celebration like this before in Australia. But a typical Filipino New Year’s Eve celebration is wild, rambunctious and nothing short of festive.

At the heart of any New Year’s Eve celebration in Philippines is the food at a Media Noche—a midnight feast. Most people look forward to attending or hosting a midnight feast, with all the trimmings. Typical dishes in the holiday fare include pancit (noodles), lechon (roast pig) and barbecued food.

Several customs must only be done at midnight: some throw about coins to gain more wealth in the coming year, or jump to increase their height, while some follow the custom of displaying twelve round fruits on the table as a sign of prosperity for the next 12 months.

You may have also heard of the age-old myth that wearing polka dots is precursor to wealth and financial stability.

While some may say these beliefs and customs are superstitious, the annual tide of celebrations do not come without your own personal traditions and customs — wherever you will be celebrating it.

For Sydney-siders celebrating New Year’s Eve — we like our bubbly flowing, our city skies sprinkled with multi-coloured fireworks and our traffic queues to our landmarks expectantly growing.

But that’s what the crowds came for — as well as the barbies, the beer and the besties.

When the clock strikes midnight and the new year is ushered in, chances are you will be awake. You might be partying with friends or watching the Sydney Harbour Bridge fireworks at home with loved ones.

But whatever you’re doing, there’s no escaping the fact that the turn of the New Year is a very big deal for Aussies too.

Most Australians will agree that it’s a relaxing yet exciting festivity to dabble in the prospects of a new year by doing what we do best — celebrating with drinks, light-hearted fun and soaking in your local or city festivities.

One custom rings true for many Australians. As a symbolic way of cleansing oneself with a view to betterment, nothing comes close. Resolutions will be made — perhaps to stop spending, to exercise more or take on a new hobby — often to be broken within hours, plans will be hatched that mostly come to fruition.

But for Australians — it’s the spirit of joy of a brand new start, and opportunities that a new year has to offer is at the heart of our celebrations.

Every country celebrates the day in their style, with their own flavours, customs and traditions to ring in a momentous occasion. If you want to experience a variety of culture driven by family, food and festivities, you will find no other place than the Philippines. It is the place for you. If you like the light-hearted yet cheerful celebrations with bubbly, barbies and your besties, then look no further. The place is Australia. For the Filipino Australian with a travel bug, as myself, I could never choose. Be it in the Philippines or Australia, my new year’s festivities are only prosperous and welcoming when with my family and friends from my two homes.

Updated: 2016-01-01 — 17:04:00