Tag Archives: new years

12 Round Fruits on New Year’s Eve

Background information: My dad is My mom is a second-generation Filipino-American, meaning he was born here in the US. His parents immigrated from the Philippines when they were both relatively young, and he grew spending a good amount of time with his family and distant relatives.

Dad: Yeah, every year, before New Year’s Eve, we buy twelve round fruits and make them the center piece at the table at the start of the new year.

Me: Why do we do this? Where did you learn this from?

Dad: Growing up we did this, I think. The fruits represent abundance and help us make sure that the coming year will be hearty and happy for everyone in the household. You have to have a fruit for each month, and they all have to be round.

Me: Why should the fruits all be round?

Dad: Uh…I don’t know, probably to represent the cycle of a full year? It’s hard to find 12 round ones because that’s more than they usually have at one grocery store. We always go to the asian market to get a good variety of fruits. So we end up with ones you wouldn’t eat any other time of the year, and the table looks really nice with all the fruits there.

I remember this tradition really well, as my dad has always been adamant about making sure we start the New Year with 12 round fruits on our table. I have many memories of us going to multiple markets to find fruits that were round enough, and all different enough. I myself am not sure how much my dad believes in this tradition, or if he just feels so strongly about it because it has always been a practice for him and his family, but either way, it has made me feel strongly about it too. I think this is a good example of showing how folklore can endure many generations, because even though it is not a very popular or well-known practice, I want to keep doing it for all the years to come, and I’m sure my dad does, too.

New Years in Brazil

Informant Information 
Nationality: Brazilian American 
Occupation: Student 
Residence: California
Date of Performance/Collection: Apr 27, 2022
Primary Language: English 
Other Language(s): Portuguese

My informant is a good friend of mine and we started talking about her Brazillian culture in McDonald’s after our bible study.

S- So for New Year’s, everyone wears white to symbolize new beginnings. So everyone has on a white outfit and then you basically party all night, watch the fireworks that’s all normal. Everyone makes wishes and dreams but it’s mostly wearing white and a night full of dancing and celebration and stuff but when we say a night full of dancing, it really is like It’s not fake like America like we danced for an hour and then we call it a night, like we are dancing, we’re celebrating we’re feasting and dishes of fish and so usually on more celebratory days fish is the option because steak is a common thing and there’s a famous meal called bacalhau, which is I forget what type of fish it is in English but it’s a fish dish with potatoes and vegetables and it’s so bomb and it’s the steakhouse the rest of the time, we’re all carnivores.  

This is the first time I’ve heard of wearing all white as a New Year’s. If carnival is any indication of how long and hard Brazilians can party, I believe that New Year’s would be no different.

New Year’s Eve Tradition: Run Outside

Informant: My informant is a current sophomore at the University of Southern California. Her parents are from Jalisco, Mexico. However, she grew up in Denver, Colorado. 

Context: The following is an excerpt of the informant and their description of their New Year’s Eve traditions. These customs are performed only during New Year’s Eve. 

Main Piece/Text: My family and I are very superstitious people. In fact, we are so superstitious that when it comes to New Year’s Eve, we do all kinds of funny and strange practices. For example, my sister loves traveling, and she always wants to travel more. Therefore, in hope for this wish to come true what she does every single year is that she runs outside with her suitcase, in hopes of the new year bringing her travel. And then I’ve also seen it with people who want to have kids who like are hoping to get pregnant. They’ll walk out with a baby stroller or like a diaper bag, something that symbolizes. what they want in upcoming New Years. 

Analysis: I think these rituals are interesting. I myself have heard from all of them in TV. In fact, they have all been encouraged be performed on TV! These performances demonstrate/express excitement for the year to come. In addition, it also reflects a future oriented perspective and a strong determination. There are these ideas of faith vs. hope. How much can one control their destiny? The fact that the family runs while doing these performances demonstrates everyone desire to move forward.


Description: It is the tossing of fish salad done during the New Years. People would circle around with chopsticks in hand. Then they would throw the salad as high as they are able, the higher meaning better fortune for the next year and having your wishes come true. The fish is the most important part due to the pun of the Chinese word for fish sounding like the word for abundance.

Background: It is something commonly done within her household. I was able to observe this ritual when we did it with a group of friends.


The salad is prepared with sauces, assorted vegetables and most importantly fish. The dish will then be presented on a table where people would gather. Each participant will be equipped with a pair of chopsticks. When the ritual begins, each participant will toss the contents as high as they can while saying their wishes. The duration of the ritual varies. At the end, the salad is consumed like a normal meal.

My thoughts:

In terms of cuisine, the salad is delicious. While the tossing does tend to make a mess, the sense of community and energy it brings is well worth it. There are many elements of this tradition that I believe are very neat. One thing is the origin of the tradition. It is mainly practiced by people who are ethnically Chinese living in Singapore or Malaysian. Most of the wordplay originated from the Chinese language, the fish signifying abundance is well known to any one who is Chinese. This tradition creates a branching and unique identity that separates itself from the traditions of the mainland and Taiwan. Food is commonly seen as something that brings people together; sharing food is often a bonding experience especially with home made cuisine. The community aspect is especially true for those in Malaysia, where ethnically Chinese people are part of the minority.

Black Eyed Peas and Collard Greens on New Years

The informant is from South Carolina and recounts a New Years tradition from the region.

T: On New Year’s Day, in the South, everybody cooks black eyed peas and collard greens. The back eyed peas are good for money. The black eyed peas represent the change and the collard greens is the cash. And that’s how much money, and it signifies that you’re going to get money all year long. So everybody cooks that on New Years. That’s just a staple. You go to someone’s house on New Year’s Day? That’s going to be cooking in the pot. Mama would cook that every New Years, no matter what.


As I’ve collected folklore about New Years traditions, there are a lot of traditions that are centered around food. There is another folklore I collected from Peru that revolves around food and prosperity.

It’s interesting that even though black eyed peas and collard greens are given a special status on New Years, they are a very common food in the everyday diet of people from the Southern United States. It’s just for this one day they are considered special representations of wealth.