This Lucky New Year's Eve Tradition Starts With 12 Round Fruits

There are a lot of New Year's Eve traditions from around the world involving specific food, but few go as big as the 12 round fruits. The New Year is about as universal a celebration as you get, as is the desire for a healthy and wealthy coming year. Food is often seen as the way to bring that luck to yourself, with traditional holiday meals like greens and black-eyed peas symbolizing money and coins. Some cultures go a little less practical with their wishes and a little more abstract, with Japan consuming long soba noodles as a symbol of longevity and prosperity, and people in Greece hanging onions from their doors as a representation of fertility and rebirth. One of the freshest and most fun of these New Year's traditions happens in the Philippines and involves a whole meal of fresh fruit.

Like other cultures that consume lentils and other round foods, the 12 round fruits of the Philippines symbolize coins and prosperity and are thought to bring good luck for the New Year. The number 12 is for each month of the year, although 13 fruits are sometimes consumed as well. The 12 fruits are often consumed as part of Media Noche, the midnight meal as the calendar turns to January 1, which also includes other symbolic Filipino foods like pork and noodles. The 12 fruits can vary based on family, but include some common items like apples and oranges that each have specific symbolic values.

The 12 round fruits of the Philippines symbolize health, prosperity, and happiness

Many of the fruits eaten on New Year's gain their meaning from cultures around East Asia. Pineapple is associated with good fortune, and the Chinese word for the fruit literally translates as "Fortune Cones." They are also a symbol of wealth and prosperity. The Chinese have also influenced the eating of apples for New Year's, as they connect the fruit to peace and harmony. Grapes are another popular choice, and eating grapes on New Year's is also done in other Spanish-speaking countries like Mexico. Other fruits can include watermelon for abundance, papaya for luck, mangos for love and family, and lemons which are thought to remove negative energy because of their power in cleaning.

For Filipino tables, the fruit served might be options like atis, chicos, lanzones, and rambutan that are native to the area, but not as well known in the United States. Of course, the meanings of any fruit can vary by culture, and the important thing is the energy and positive thinking associated with the meal. If you choose to take up the 12 round fruits as part of your holiday tradition, you can make it whatever you'd like, as long as it retains that spirit.