Media Noche Feast

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Filipinos love festivities, family get-togethers, and delicious food. Every year, Christmas and New Year are the most awaited events. As with the rest of the world, the holiday frenzy ends with the celebration on New Year’s Eve, or Bisperas ng Bagong Taon. On this day, it seems every tradition from what to wear to what to eat must attract good luck.


The meal served during Bisperas is called Media Noche (means “midnight” in Spanish). Food prepared during Media Noche varies from every household. There’s a mélange of dishes with influences from Chinese, Spanish, and American cuisine.


Since people are awaiting the new year, Filipinos want to have a prosperous year ahead. Here, the Chinese influence can be seen from the traditions to food on the table. A bowl or basket of round fruits is sure to grace the tables of every Filipinos. Round fruits such as watermelon, melon, oranges, apples, and grapes, are common since they are believed to bring good luck. Aim to have 12 kinds of round fruits to signify the twelve months of the year. Pineapple is also included to the fruit selection since the design on the fruit’s skin resembles gold coins, and everybody wants to have money in the coming year. A noodle dish is another staple during Media Noche. The long noodles symbolize long life. A few of the popular pancit dishes are Pancit Bihon, Pancit Palabok, Pancit Canton, and Pancit Miki-Bihon.


For those who can still afford a lechon (roasted pig) after having it on Christmas serve it on New Year’s Eve. Ham is another common item at the table. Since Christmas hams are always included in corporate giveaways to employees and clients, most likely there is a surplus of hams after Christmas. If lechon is too pricey, a ham will do. A meat dish Filipinos love is Pork barbecue: thinly sliced pork belly skewered into thin bamboo sticks. The barbecues are served with vinegar spiced with chilies, shallots, and garlic. Most Filipinos don’t include chicken in the menu because of the expression “isang kahig, isang tuka” (literally: one scratch, one peck). Chickens are only able to pick and eat small food when they scratch the ground and Filipinos don’t want to experience a hand-to-mouth existence.


To end a sumptuous meal there are rice cakes like Sapin-sapin, Puto, or the famous Tikoy. These rice cakes are sweet and sticky, symbolizing a harmonious relationship and tight bond among family members. Filipinos also hope that the stickiness of these foods will also mean that good fortune will “stick” to them all year round.


Media Noche is filled with beliefs and traditions that many Filipinos observe. Whether they’re hoping to have a better hand financially, career-, or relationship-wise, faith in God should always be in the forefront when welcoming the New Year.


Have a safe and have a Happy and Prosperous New Year!


About the Author

 Joyce Dimaculangan is a freelance writer who has written articles on a wide range of topics from information technology to lifestyle and wellness. She enjoys eating local foods, trying new dishes, and buying organic produce as much as possible. You can follow her on Twitter @joysi_writer