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Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year Celebration in the Philippines

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If there is one word that could describe the celebration of the New Year here in the Philippines, it is the word “explosive”. Traditionally, Filipinos use firecrackers to welcome the New Year with a bang. Well, I guess in almost all countries in the world, there are colorful fireworks displays that people from all walks of life anticipate on this festive occasion. However, Filipinos are not satisfied with just watching fireworks; they want to do it on their own. Thus, in every street and corner, people light firecrackers of all kinds. Often, they would choose the more thunderous ones, which create the sound of a million mortar-shelling all over the archipelago. It seems like you are in the middle of a full blown war.

This is a tradition that is uniquely and distinctly Filipino. It is part of the merry making that comes with the celebration of the New Year. Even the danger of firework-related accidents or injuries cannot persuade people to stop the tradition.

In previous years, some have had burns while there are those who have suffered from severe injuries that have required surgeons to amputate their fingers or even the entire hand. Some have become blind on one eye. Unfortunately, many of those injured are children. Not to mention the accidental fire that breaks out from fireworks stores or places where they manufacture these firecrackers. In addition, there are unscrupulous people who fire their guns to celebrate the New Year so there are injuries coming stray bullets.

This year, the Department of Health records around 346 fireworks related injuries. 335 come from firecracker blasts and eye injuries, about 9 come from stray bullets and only 2 come from “watusi” (a small, red-colored, match stick-like type of firecracker that is supposed to be safer for children) ingestion. Fortunately, there are no reports of death.

Historically, Filipinos have borrowed this tradition from the Chinese New Year celebration. In fact, historically, Chinese people have been the first to use fireworks and rockets.

No matter how you celebrate the coming of the New Year, what is important is that each year that passes; life becomes more and more fruitful for you and the people that somehow you touch with your life, by God’s grace.

Happy New Year!

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Images of Blast Injuries Courtesy of and

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