What's The Meaning Of Round Fruits For The New Year?

With the arrival of a new year come many old traditions. Alongside well-known practices like popping champagne corks and counting down to midnight, there are also more regional customs from specific countries or cities. One such example of a New Year's food tradition comes from the Philippines, where the name of the game is round fruits. People who abide by this custom eat 13 round fruits leading up to the holiday to bring about good fortune in the coming year. But what's the meaning behind this tradition?

Let's start with the number. While many may perceive 13 as unlucky, there's a valid reason this custom calls for this specific number of fruits. It's a classic "one more for good luck" situation — 12 of the round fruits represent the months of the year, and the bonus fruit gives a boost of good fortune. Some versions of this tradition change the number of fruits to 12, like in the U.S. and Europe, but Filipino tradition considers the number 13 to be lucky and doesn't associate it with any negativity. By eating a fruit for every month of the coming year (plus an extra one for good measure), you're hoping to ensure security and ease for the next 365 days. As for the shape of the fruit, round fruits like oranges or lychees represent the shape of a coin, equating to prosperity.

Round foods signify prosperity

It isn't just the number of fruits that holds significance — their coin-like shape also factors into the tradition. As you might guess, the notion of coins symbolizes financial prosperity for the ensuing year. People in the Philippines aren't the only ones who subscribe to the belief that round equals rich. People in Italy consume lentils on New Year's for the exact same reason. However, this tradition entails that you eat your lentils after midnight and with a side of sausage called cotechino. The inclusion of the sausage brings positive symbolism in its own way, as the pig is largely seen as a mascot of good luck around the world. This lentil tradition shares a kinship with the Filipino custom, as both call for round foods that mimic the appearance of coins.

So, as midnight on December 31 rapidly approaches, once you've filled your shopping cart with plenty of champagne, you might want to head to the produce section, too. Not only would this be a reverent nod to Filipino culture, but if you buy oranges, in particular, you could increase your vitamin C intake, which could prove helpful for a New Year's Day hangover.