The Filipinos borrow many traditions from the Chinese, and the idea of driving away bad luck or bad spirits and ushering in good luck for the coming new year is the overall theme for Filipino New Year celebrations.
We have firecrackers as one example. They say that the noise and tremors will send the evil spirits speedily high-tailing out of the area.
Another tradition when it comes to bringing luck in the upcoming year is to have round fruits at the dining table. Our family has been consistent ever since to include round fruits every New Year. We never fail to complete the required number of fruits, even at least one of every kind, just to follow the long-time tradition.
The preparation of 13 different kinds of round and sweet fruits at the dining table is a borrowed belief or tradition from our Chinese brothers and sisters.
Has anybody ever wondered why the traditional number of round and sweet fruits being served and prepared during New Year’s Eve is 13? Many of us Filipinos believe that 13 is an unlucky number and is also kind of associated with evil spirits or deeds. That is why some are only having 12 fruits instead of 13.
But for our Chinese brothers and sisters (Tsinoys), 13 is actually a lucky number and having round-shaped fruits signifies coins so having a lot will definitely bring good luck and prosperity.
The first person or group of people who experience this luck and prosperity are the fruit vendors or sellers themselves.
Fruit sellers are almost everywhere now that the New Year is around the corner. For sure, the fruit sellers are already experiencing the luck and prosperity way ahead of everyone else. Their sales always shoots up during this kind of season.
During the holiday season, most of these fruits are in-demand and there is a possibility that there will be shortage of some of the more uncommonly bought fruits. It is also possible that prices would go up because of the high demand for these fruits.
The suppliers would raise their prices towards the dealers and in turn, some of the dealers may forward the extra cost to the consumers. The prices of fruits are always steadily going up and many of the markets are sky-rocketing prices. But since it’s a tradition, people will still buy them eventhough the prices go up.
Fruits As Offerings
The Chinese love fruits, they like them big and beautiful, and they prefer fresh fruits, though sugared ones are common at this time of year. Fresh fruit at the New Year symbolizes life and a new beginning. Fruits serve as a harbinger of wishes for good luck. Sugared ones are a wish for a sweet year. Traditionally, the pomelo, mandarins or what we call the tangerine or clementine, as well as limes, pineapple, and water or winter melon are seen as temple offerings. And speaking of traditions, during the harvest festival, the Lunar New Year, and other special occasions, fruits are common gifts, as well as common offerings.
The feng shui energy of fruits is the energy of fruition. The use of specific fruits in traditional feng shui applications is often dictated by classifications from ancient texts as being specific symbols of longevity, wealth, prosperity, fertility, etc.
When choosing images of fruits as a feng shui cure, first and foremost be guided by your own instincts, or your own understanding of the energy of the fruit, as well as its possible medicinal remedies.
Feng shui-wise, attention is often paid to the colors, numbers, as well as the symbolism of specific fruits.
Below is the description of the most popular fruit symbols as used in feng shui applications. I have also associated them with some popular personalities who have made such an impact from the events of this ending year.
- Peach. One of the most popular feng shui fruit symbols, peach is the symbol of immortality. The peach is also known in feng shui as the fruit of heaven because of its prominence in many ancient Chinese legends about the Immortal gods. Peach came to be associated with wealth, health, abundance and longevity. The personality I would associate the peach with is President Noynoy Aquino since he is now becoming an all-powerful leader who has made extreme efforts to go after the evil-doers from the previous administration. Nothing is stopping him now. He could also be somewhat of a “peach” of a different meaning as he is still destined to find the love of his life.
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo could also want to be a peach right now, since her loyal lawyers, spokepersons and aides have been saying that she is sick with so many different diseases, it is best she becomes the fruit of immortality so that she could rise above her sickness and face all the upcoming charges against her.
- Pomegranate. Because the pomegranate is full of juicy seeds, it symbolizes fertility in feng shui and it is used as a feng shui fertility cure. Pomegranate also symbolizes happiness in the family, as well as good luck for one’s descendants. Feng shui consultants often advise newlywed couples in China to display art with pomegranates to attract good luck and many healthy children. This could be associated with former Senator Ramon Revilla Sr. for having so many wives and children. He is indeed a powerhorse and belongs to a very fertile breed of men. Lately, the family of Ramon Revilla Sr, were highlighted in the news because of the recent killing of one of his sons, Ramgen Revilla, where siblings were also implicated in the crime.
- Grapes. In feng shui, grapes symbolize abundance of food, thus abundance of material wealth. Grapes came to represent success and abundance coming to one in the near future, or always being in one’s family, thus it is common to see displays of grapes in Chinese homes. Sometimes grapes are also used as a feng shui symbol, or cure for fertility, as well as a cure for turning bad luck into good luck. This could be Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao. Indeed he has an abundance of fame, authority and fortune. A very succesful boxer with a recent win against Marquez, congressman and rumored to be running for governor by 2013, and businessman with an investment even as a media mogul by running a radio station and a boxing magazine. It could also be associated with Anne Curtis for having an abundance of good fortune: a blockbuster movie – No Another Woman, a platinum recording album- Annebisyosa, a high-rating TV show – Showtime, and soon her first concert – No Other Concert.
- Apple. It has always been associated with peace, good health and harmony in one’s home. One of the reasons is the fact that in Chinese language the word for “apple” sounds like the word for “peace”. Color-wise, red apples are considered to be very auspicious, although or course green and golden/yellow apples are also widely used according to their color properties. I am associating this fruit to the Senators turned impeachment trial judges. They would have a difficult position by year 2012, as their decisions may provoke a war if majority of the people find them unfavorable or opportunistic. Since most of them have political plans for 2013, many are thinking they may take advantage of the publicity as an early campaign tool. They must promote peace, good health and harmony so that the impeachment court will not turn into a market.
- Oranges. The popularity of oranges in the traditional feng shui applications is explained by the refreshing/cleansing odor, as well as the yang quality of the orange color. The orange is a prayer or wish for good fortune. That is why it is probably the most common food offering.As a feng shui cure it is often recommended to have 9 oranges in one’s living room or kitchen for good luck and prosperity. It is believed that citrus fruits can ward off bad luck, thus oranges, along with tangerines and limes are often used in traditional feng shui applications. This could represent our congressmen making up the prosecution team armed, abled and ready for the impeachment trial. I do hope they will be able to shoo away bad luck and win in the trial against Corona’s powerhouse legal team. I also pray that they do show their true colors and prove to us they deserve to be called our Representatives.
- Melons – Melons and the pomelo are symbolic of family unity, they hold out the wish that the family will, like the moon, stay round, large, whole, and also united. Families love to share them and many other fruits. That may be why they buy large fruits and share them together. Who would want to be a melon or pomelo? I would love to associate this with Janelle Manahan so she could finally put some sense to Genelyn Magsaysay who was also implicated in her son’s murder. Janelle could become the key to unite the family and prevent another murder in their homes. Though she suffered a lot losing her boyfriend and getting wounded in the process, I hope the emotional scars would also heal and give her the strength to run a cause centered on putting families back together harmoniously.
- Apricots are symbolic, too, they can stand for or mean a beautiful woman. But beauty had best not be to give your husband a red one. If you did, it would tell him that his wife is having an affair with a lover. I would associate this with Jinkee Pacquiao. How she transformed to a real stunner has amazed a lot of people. Some have said that it was because of jealousy as his husband has been so much rumored to have been involved with some beautiful women, like Krista Ranillo, because of his popularity. That is why she employed the help of Vicki Belo to turn her into a beautiful wife. Will Pacman finally settle “home” and stop his “extra-curricular activities” or would Jinkee keep on turning “red” due to his infidelities?
- Pineapple. The sound of the Chinese word for pineapple is close to the sound of “good luck coming your way”, so the pineapple has become a popular traditional feng shui symbol of wealth, fortune and prosperity. It could be associated with child star Bugoy Cariño for winning as best child performer of the 2011 Metro Manila Film Festival for his role in Shake, Rattle and Roll 13. After that win, I’m sure a lot of producers are eyeing him for a role in several projects.
However, this fruit is more definitely Assistant Secretary Dr. Eric Tayag of the Department of Health. His impressive dance move is something to watch out for, like his recent guesting at the ABS-CBN’s Umagang Kay Ganda morning show where he was there to promote the DOHs alternative to paputok, the “World’s Safest Firecracker” containing firecracker sound effects downloadable from the DOH website, instead the audience were surprise at his dancing prowess as he danced to the tune of “Move Like Jagger”. I’m sure the other TV stations would try to guest him as well, and the people who intend to play with firecrackers would probably try to imitate his dance moves instead while pumping up the beat from their loud sound systems. I am also sure a lot of parodies or mockeries will mushroom banking on this humorous discovery.
These are just some that I could think of. I would update as I learn more fruit associations with the “stars”.
Going back to the real fruits. It is best to use or display fresh fruits for their specific energies. However, traditional feng shui schools have developed a variety of products and cures that incorporate the symbolism of fruits – from fruit shaped crystals to various amulets with the representation of specific fruits.
So, are we going to use symbolical representations to represent fruits that represent a whole lot of meaning?
That’s a lot of “representation”, we might just as well turn into a fruitcake.
12 Pieces of Grapes
Another belief is that when you eat 12 pieces of grapes at 12 midnight of New Year, it will bring you wealth and more luck for the next 12 months of the coming year.
Grapes can be said to have multiple symbolisms. For example, they are considered symbols of festivities and immortality, probably because they are used in the production of wine. However, grapes also stand for blood and sacrifice. Religiously, grapes brought out of the Promised Land represented the promise of a new life God made to the Israelites. Bacchus is known as the god of wine.
Grapes and vines are among the most frequent and important symbols in early Christian and medieval art. Often used in the Old Testament as symbols of God’s relationship with the Israelites, the vine became the emblem of Christ who, in John 15:1, referred to himself as the “true vine.” The infant Jesus may thus be depicted with a bunch of grapes, this also signifying the wine symbolic of Christ’s blood partaken at the Last Supper. Figures or angels harvesting grapes may symbolize the Last Judgment as described in the Apocalypse where a great winepress signifies God’s anger at injustice . The Cross and Tree of Life may be represented as, or with, grape vines.
What if we feed 12 coconuts instead to the crocodiles as our offering? Will that count?
When we hear the word coconut, we most of the time symbolize it to mean our “head”. When they say “use your coconut”, it means we should use our logic or common sense to figure out something.
This is what teachers used to say to students who answer questions without thinking things through.
Way back in our high school, we were told by our teachers to always use our common sense. I do not know where the joke came from and how it came about, but ultimately, we joke around as “use your coconut shell”. It being that “common sense” and “coconut shell” both have C and S as beginning of the word.
The word coconut shell was then used to mean use your head as in use your common sense.
Globally oriented businessmen can say the same thing to some government officials who are missing the opportunity to propel our coconut industry into its rightful global leadership position.
However, in other countries, the coconut (Sanskrit: Sriphala = God’s fruit) is also used to symbolize ‘God’. While worshipping any deity, a coconut is almost always offered along with flowers and incense sticks.
In India one of the most common offerings in a temple is a coconut. It is also offered on occasions like weddings, festivals, the use of a new vehicle, bridge, house etc. It is offered in the sacrificial fire whilst performing “homa”.
The coconut is broken and placed before the Lord. It is later distributed as “prasaada” (a holy gift). The fibre covering of the dried coconut is removed except for a tuft on the top. The marks on the coconut make it look like the head of a human being. The coconut is broken, symbolising the breaking of the ego.
The juice within, representing the inner tendencies (vaasanas) is offered along with the white kernel – the mind, to the Lord. A mind thus purified by the touch of the Lord is used as prasaada.
In the traditional “abhishekha” ritual done in all temples and many homes, several materialsare poured over the deity like milk, curd, honey, tender coconut water, sandal paste, holy ash, etc.
Each material has a specific significance of bestowing certain benefits onworshippers. Tender coconut water is used in “abhisheka” rituals since it is believed to bestow spiritual growth on the seeker.
The coconut also symbolises selfless service. Every part of the tree -the trunk,leaves, fruit, coir etc. Is used in innumerable ways like thatches, mats, tasty dishes, oil,soap etc. It takes in even salty water from the earth and converts it into sweet nutritivewater that is especially beneficial to sick people. It is used in the preparation of manyayurvedic medicines and in other alternative medicinal systems.
The marks on the coconut are even thought to represent the three-eyed Lord Shivaand therefore it is considered to be a means to fulfill our desires.
For us Filipinos, regardless of the culture of other countries and the fact that the coconut has the most usage, we would still associate it with the widely known symbolism: Use your “head”. Originally, the phrase was “gamitin mo ang kukote mo.” “Kukote” means a person’s head. Some then used “coconut” instead of “kukote” as the first two syllables of these two words sound the same.
It was the spaniards who gave this drupe the name coco, with a double meaning of cabeza (head) or cabeza de mono (monkey head) because of the three holes. It’s often said in spanish as a food for thought: usa la cabeza or usa el coco.
I think every country has their own phrases originated from their streets. This sounds similar to a phrase that I heard in Malay language. One person told another..”awak kapala gosung”? means Awak-you or your, Kapala-head, Gosung-empty. And coconut in Malay is called “kelepa”.
The 12 coconuts here in the Philippines would be the following people for best exemplifying people losing their minds:
- Elena Bautista-Horn – I still do not know how her logical reasoning has gone missing. She seems to be a smart woman yet her logic is bewildering.
- Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. – for masterminding the Maguindanao massacre
- Jovito Palparan Jr. – for being “The Butcher” because of his involvement in the disappearances and killing of militants
- Bishop Juan De Dios Pueblo – for requesting a “brand new car” as a birthday gift from Arroyo. This branched out to the discovery of several other bishops who requested “SUVs” from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and put the “SUV bishops” in shame
- Ramona Bautista – for her “ever-changing” statements as to what happened on the night his brother Ramgen was killed, and then her immediate flee to escape the cameras of the press. Flight could mean guilt, my dear.
- Christopher Lao – for his lack of common sense to drive his car across a flooded street and then arrogantly blame others for his stupidity. We need less men like him who blames, everyone except himself, for not being “informed”.
- Annabelle Rama – for her uncivilized display of character and “verbal abuse”, both offline and online, towards Nadia Montenegro. Not in front of the kids, my monster Mama!
- Piolo Pascual – for devastatingly putting into tears our beloved KC Concepcion. Once and for all, get out of your closet, and follow the example of Rustom “Binibining Gandang Hari” Padilla.
- Ferdinand Topacio – for his very generous offering of one of his “balls” as collateral to allow the Arroyos to leave the country. His “family jewels” could not even be worth a single penny when offered to a pawnshop.
- Mayor Sara Duterte – for punching court Sheriff Abe Andres out of dispute with the demolition team and informal settlers. I’m sure, if given an opportunity, she also has a fighting chance to win against the “Pambansang Kamao” Manny Pacquiao .
- Renato Corona – for his apparent alliance with the previous Arroyo administration. From the very start, his acceptance of the Chief Justice position has been a constitutional violation already. So expect it to end with another “constitutional blunder”. That’s “karma” for you, Mister CJ.
- Midas Marquez – for seemingly acting as the lawyer of Renato Corona and not as spokesperson of the Supreme Court….and please stop with the “gay” impressions….oh, I’m sorry…I was informed that it’s but natural for him to chase after a falling microphone stand. He does have a lot of “close-door interactions” with the Chief Justice as they discuss the details of the court rulings.
I’m sorry but I forgot that crocodiles could also represent our congressmen. It would be cannibalism if I let them eat their own “ferocious” kind…..and somebody told me that the coconut is not a fruit.
It is a nut? Nope, sorry but it is both not a nut or a fruit. Click here for details.
However, we will really all go nuts if we continue to hear news about people like these. There’s definitely a lot more of them “coconuts” but that will do for now.
Some Filipinos prepares 12 kinds and some do prepare 13, but whatever the number is, it’s the thought and true spirit of
New Year that counts the most.
Most people follow these traditions because of the luck that they would like to earn. Knowing that the economic situation in the the Philippines is very dissapointing, most of the people would like to grab the opportunity to put things in their favor.
Sometimes, the effort we exert in earning a living is not enough, that people resort to beliefs to help them strive better even if its only on the psychological level.
As with any tradition and belief, it all comes down to each of one us. We will probably encounter tough challenges this coming year but of course, there are also lots of blessings that may come our way. It may come in different forms such as material stuff like money and food or even intangible things such as friendship and love and the least we could do is to give thanks for these blessings.
Every small blessing counts. Let’s welcome the new near with a positive attitude that will drive us to have a wonderful and prosperous new year.
Happy New Year to everyone!
“Knowledge is knowing that the tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is realizing that it is not advisable to put it in a fruit cocktail.”