Year of Pig marks prosperity for ‘07
Published in Dec 31 2006 - BOHOLANOS await for the coming of the Year of the Pig as wishes of prosperity raise hopes when the clock strikes twelve tonight. This coming year too, the Chinese calendar experts predict a perfect time to eat, drink and be merry, a scenario that would sustain the celebrations. Hope may have something to do with the forecast that says business would be bright as the year allows lavish spending, Chinese feng shui experts said. So in that exact moment when the Happy New Year greetings ripple across the country, Boholanos would most likely be in simultaneous religious gatherings timed to sing the Gloria at 12. In Tagbilaran, the new year mass would be celebrated with Bishop Leonardo Medroso leading and priests con-celebrating the mass at 11:45. In a widely Catholic Bohol , the church choir sings the first Gloria note reveals an otherwise weird picture of local beliefs and traditions.
The guy standing next to you tiptoes a bit. The lady in polka dots massages her belly. Somebody jingles loose coins. Another sings the hymn slightly louder. All of these rise in interesting contra-point above the din of revving engines, whining machines, honking horns, paper blowers and whistles. And that is while in the middle of a mass. A local belief says tiptoeing adds an inch to ones height. Rubbing the belly melts extra fat. Jingling coins bring in good fortune and belting out a hymn magically transform one's hoarse voice into one that is angelic.
The cacophony ask for yet another blessed year to come. Here, it is a widespread belief that what one did or ate at the exact moment of midnight of the new year determines one's entire fate. The belief, though not totally traceable to the widely Catholic practice, has subconsciously pushed people to celebrate. So the first few minutes of the new year would be in family gatherings. The belief stretches up to the point where people anxiously wait for the tall dark-haired visitor who brings in good luck. Firecrackers and pyrotechnics also spice up the night. Many said it pays to scare off the bad spirits with a din. Then beckon the good ones good with brightly colored fireworks.
New Year celebrations in Bohol still feature the food, some would zealously associate with the blessings for the new year. People would long for suman or biko on the table. These food are cooked out of sticky glutinous rice for luck to stick on for the year. Pancit or spaghetti or noodles symbolize long life and so they occupy a special place. Aromatic food as ube entice the good ghosts. Then, not far away is the present 12 round fruits to symbolize coming full circle or for a complete year's cycle.
For those with the Western influence, eating the century cake, baked with black-eyed peas for good luck, slices of ham for prosperity and even sour wine, which traces its origins from foreign culture. And it too finds a special place in Bohol. The celebration, set January 1 by the Babylonians to coincide with the first visible crescent after the first day of spring. The sign of the beginning of spring, has become then a logical season of rebirth. The early Catholic Church used to condemn the festivities, it being originally pagan, records would say. But when the Greeks around 600 BC celebrated the god of wine Dionysius, and they parade a baby boy in a basket representing such rebirth. Placed side by side with the unwitting symbolism of the newborn Jesus, the church then has to agree to the festivities.