THE world of 7 billion people is now divided into three kinds, based on how they view the New Year.
The Old Folks, who are still steeped in superstitious beliefs in observing the New Year; the Middle-Aged, who seem to be the only ones that take New Year’s Resolutions seriously; and the Very Young, especially the Millennials, who are both residents and victims of the social media revolution. This last group has a very brief attention span: When is next group lunch, or the next gym work? They are the type who would not be inclined toward goals for the long run such as those found in New Year’s Resolutions.
We are not making value judgment on any of them; we are just stating the way things are today.
See, it is the superstitious and often out-of-this-world New Year beliefs of the Old Folks, in spite of their being largely Christian, that make us roll with laughter.
Not only do those beliefs represent split-level Christianity in the sense that they assign powers and might to things and circumstance – other than God – they also defy logic.
For instance, an elderly priest in a recent message cited their childhood practice of jumping as high as they could at the stroke of 12:00 midnight, in the belief that they would grow much taller when they got older than if they didn’t jump. After many years, thanks to the elves, the ill-fated priest remained height-challenged at below 5-ft, and could hardly stand higher than the pulpit for his sermons.
The superstitious “wear-polka-dots” (representing money) and stuff one’s pockets with coins – supposedly to signal financial plenty – alas and alack, only led those who did literally to a life full of coins rather than wads of bank notes, thus, barely making ends meet.
Funnier still is the myth of luck for the whole year for those who happen to see white butterflies – so one begins to question just how many luckless people there are on earth considering the paucity of the white butterfly population.
“The first thing you do after midnight of the New Year is what you’d be likely to do during the rest of the year” is another such belief. What does that mean? If due to indigestion from a food overload one later agonizes inside the comfort room, or suffers serious diarrhea at that very minute – it means Immodium for one year as “maintenance?”
The Old Folks also used to urge everyone to open all doors and windows on New Year’s eve and on the big day – it was a charming, cool breeze that visited homes in those days – until the “Akyat Bahay” gang came into being.
There was also a myth that those born on New Year’s Day were the luckiest of beings – well, we do not know about that.
What we do know is that a provincial newspaper publisher and his one and only love were married on a sober New Year’s dawn at the town cathedral in 1949, and were inseparable, till death did them part.
Another funny idiocy is not to include chicken and fish in one’s New Year’s menu fare, because doing that could lead to financial scarcity. Well, they have not heard of the enormity of the prices of fish; if they had they would not view it as the poor man’s viand.
As for chicken, arguably the best retail food restaurant in the country, it is bannered as Chickenjoy by Jolibee as it goes global. And “Max”—it promotes its brand as a national food franchise with the slogan “A house that fried chicken built.” Where did the Old Folks get this nonsense about chicken?
Foolishly, we are enjoined to eat “pancit” that day, supposedly for long life. That has absolutely no scientific basis at all. If for anything, the slum dwellers and the poorest of the poor content themselves with just “Lucky Me” noodles day, noon and night over boiled rice for the whole frigging year. Not the luckiest of food. How’s that for longevity?
“Washing clothes on New Year’s Day augurs that one member of the family will die that year.” That could draw a lot of class suits from both Tide and Breeze against its thought originators—deaths are happening all around the world for reasons not even remotely related to soap sods and H2O every year.
And what of running away from a “crying cat” during that day because such creature carries some bad omen (bad ‘ointment,’ former president Erap would say)? And by the way, how can one discern a feline’s meow from a cry?
Other nations are also just as silly. In Spain, they eat 12 sweet grapes to have 12 great months ahead. In Greece, they make St Basil’s cake with a coin hidden inside and declare the finder to be the luckiest man for the coming year.
In Hawaii, they never sweep their house floors during that day —to keep good luck within, while in many southern American states, they eat black-eyed peas (sic) for prosperity; it is only now I realize why that great American band called themselves the “Black Eyed Peas” with App.d.aps.
Some Chinese say, wearing “red” underwear is for prosperity while others go for “yellow” for a livelier sex life. Today, the Reds and the Yellows are Digong’s faves and pet peeves, respectively. Buddhist monks also reportedly drop 108 coins inside the house to erase 108 human weaknesses.
Enough of foolish symbolism.
To us the best New Year’s Day activity would be to classify one’s life into spiritual, physical, social and skills dimensions. Then do one simple resolution to improve oneself in those four areas for the coming year.
Nothing grand—just something simple and doable that one can reward oneself if attained. But none of those superstitious nothings mentioned above.
Happy New Year 2017—the Rooster Year!
Bingo Dejaresco, a former banker, is a financial consultant, media practitioner and political strategist. He is a life member of Finex but his views here are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of Finex. firstname.lastname@example.org.