Christmas in the Philippines starts on September 1.  Yeah, it’s early.

But…for a lot of Filipinos, the New Year celebration is the more awaited day.

New Year in the Philippines is a loud, bright celebration that everybody looks forward to, regardless of religion or location.

While most Filipinos still choose to celebrate New Year’s at home, more people are going to malls, parks, hotels, and beaches all over the country to party and celebrate. With pandemic restrictions lifted, more people are even determined to go out after being stranded at home for two years.

If you look at Filipino New Years traditions, you’ll see that it’s heavily influenced by Chinese traditions. They follow a lot of practices that are supposed to attract wealth and ward off evil spirits.

To attract wealth in the coming year, you’ll see Filipinos wear polka dots because dots symbolize money. Round fruits are in high demand as part of their Media Noche (New Year’s Feast) table centerpieces because they represent money.

To ward off evil spirits, they make a lot of noise. Hence the parties, paper trumpets, videoke sessions, and fireworks. They party hard on New Year and they use a lot of fireworks. Lots and lots of fireworks.

The hard-partying also means most hospitals would be on high alert around this time. December to January is when they have the highest incidence of heart diseases like stroke and heart attacks because of all the fatty holiday food like lechon. There’s also a spike in alcohol-related and firecracker injuries during this time.

Here’s an anecdote from one of my OFS, Jam:

When I was a Red Cross volunteer in my early 20s, we’d ride around the neighborhood every New Year’s Eve and New Year. There’s always someone getting hurt. It’s more convenient for us to just go around to treat minor injuries and transport serious injuries to the hospital.

And for this reason, most of your OFS won’t work on Jan 2. They’ll start back on Jan 3.