12+ Round Fruit Ideas for the Filipino New Year's Eve Tradition
The two most widely celebrated holidays in the Philippines are Christmas and New Year's. Filipinos have a long preparation for Christmas, which starts once the "ber" months begin. The "ber" months, as Filipinos call them, start with September. Once September begins, one will start to see Christmas lanterns on sale alongside streets and stores with Christmas carols playing on radios and TV commercials.
Stores and malls get crazy during the Christmas gift-hunting season. As soon as Christmas is over, the attention shifts towards the coming New Year, and the crowds move from the malls to the grocery stores. This is because people are preparing for the New Year's tradition of serving 12 round fruits.
Why 12 Round Fruits?
New Year's is the second most celebrated holiday in the country, and one tradition Filipinos have for welcoming the New Year is serving 12 (or sometimes 13) circular fruits on the table. The practice is believed to attract good luck and fortune for the new year.
The fruits are also believed to welcome prosperity into the home. The round shape of the fruits symbolizes coins or money; thus, having these fruits on New Year's is a sign of prosperity and abundance for the household. And the number 12 represents each month in a year.
Can't think of 12 types of round-shaped fruits? Don't worry—you can choose from this list of 20 different fruits as you prepare for this most eagerly awaited holiday.
Apples are one of the most common fruits available all year round. This healthy fruit is available in green and red varieties. Some prefer the red one because of the color—red for good luck as you welcome a new year. And yet the color green is associated with money. So which one would you choose? Why not have both colors of apples?
Who would leave watermelon off their list? This juicy fruit is a good source of vitamin C and is native to Africa. It's often present among the 12 New Year's fruits.
Too big, you say? If you worry that a watermelon would take up too much space next to the other fruits, you still have some options. There are varieties of watermelon that are smaller and also perfectly round. Some are seedless, too!
Back in the Philippines, grapes are one of the fruits we display on New Year's Eve. So now grapes will always be one of the first fruits that comes to my mind when the hunt for 12 round fruits begins.
Don't forget the cantaloupe—I love this fruit. I could indulge in a bowl of cantaloupe on a hot summer day. So, if this fruit is available where you are on New Year's, you will want one to complete your display.
5. Longan Fruits
Longan fruits are round and make a perfect addition to your 12 round fruits. They are delicious and sweet! This is one of my favorites that I never skip if they are available at my regular grocery market.
Fun fact: Longans are known in China as "dragon eye" because they look like the bulbous eye of a dragon.
Plums are good-looking fruits, aren't they? They're juicy, healthy and good for you, so don't leave them behind.
Eating this fruit's juicy, yellow, creamy pulp will help you live healthier; the fruit is a good source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. And they are available all year round, so don't worry about missing them at the grocery store when you need them to complete your fruit table.
7. Asian Pears
Seeing Asian pears hanging from a tree makes me imagine savouring every bite of this delicious fruit, as if I can really hear the sound of biting into a crisp, juicy pear.
This pear cultivar has other names, too: sand pear, nashi pear and apple pear. It is also known by its places of origin: Korean pear, Japanese pear and Chinese pear.
The bright color of an orange will surely give life to your fruit basket or bowl on the table. These sweet fruits are a good source of vitamin C and fiber. And if you have too many oranges left after the holidays, you can make marmalade or juice.
Persimmons are a good source of antioxidants, vitamins and other nutrients our bodies need. They are one of the fruits I enjoy the most, as ripe persimmons are perfectly sweet and crunchy. They are a yellow-orange fruit that belongs to the genus Diospyros, which literally means "wheat of Zeus." Dried persimmons also make a great snack.
10. Velvet Apples
Velvet apples are related to persimmon as the fruit is also from the genus Diospyrus. This fruit is reddish-brown in color and has fine fur. The velvet apple, or mabolo, has a cheesy taste.
This fuzzy-skinned fruit of the genus prunus is native to China and has yellowish, juicy, sweet flesh.
The pit or "kernel" of the peach is also an important ingredient in Chinese medicine. I recommend adding some peaches to your New Year's fruits, as they are highly regarded from their place of origin and symbolize immortality and vitality. Civil officers in China would even cut peach woods on New Year's Eve and lay it on their doors for protection against bad influences for the coming year.
The sweet honeydew is good for dessert, chilled or not, and it's said to be similar to the Bailan melon of China.
To serve honeydew as a dessert, scrape the melon from its rind, fill half a small bowl or sundae glass with it, and add sugar palm and jellies on top. Then add a little bit of milk (or a lot, depending on your liking) and top it with your favorite ice cream. You can add your own personalized toppings to make it your own. I also do this with cantaloupe, but I suggest consuming it as soon as the milk is added; for some reason, it starts to taste bitter if you wait too long.
Cherries are a vibrant shade of red. Many cultures, including the Chinese, consider it to be the color of good luck and joy. So it won't hurt to consider adding cherries to your New Year's table. They are a high source of antioxidants, too, along with minerals such as potassium, zinc and iron.
After the holiday, cherries left along with other fruits can make a good fruit salad for dessert.
These small, yellow fruits are also known as Japanese plum and Chinese plum, and they are native to China. Loquats come in clusters, and each fruit usually has four seeds. They are another good source of antioxidants, minerals and vitamins such as vitamin A.
Some guavas are oval in shape, so be sure to choose one of the more round varieties for your New Year's table. Those varieties include the apple guava, lemon guava and strawberry guava.
Guavas can be eaten either ripe or while still green. While some prefer them ripe, there are those who enjoy them green with salt and vinegar, myself included. This fruit is even eaten with soy sauce and vinegar in Hawaii.
Lanzones come in clusters, and they're another delicious treat for your table when ripe. One thing I remember and will always remember is the sticky sap that comes from this fruit. As a young kid, I was always told to be careful with lanzones as the sap can get on clothes or anything you touch.
These fruits are called lanzones in the Philippines, but they are native to Southeast Asia, where they are also known as langsat.
17. Star Apple Fruits
Ripe star apple (chrysophyllum caimito) fruits have a beautiful purple color. They are also called milk fruit, cainito, du lait and, in the Philippines, kaymito or caimito. This fruit is a good source of antioxidants, and one can taste most of its sweetness when it is really ripe. Some prefer it chilled, but in the provinces, people prefer it fresh from the tree.
Rambutan (nephelium lappaceum) is a hairy fruit. Don't get scared or let those spines drive you away, though, as they are actually harmless and soft to the touch, and they won't poke you. In fact, rambutan is one of my favorite fruits.
I'd say this fruit has a resemblance with the lychee and the strawberry; it would look like a strawberry without the soft spikes. And since it's in the same botanical family as the lychee, the delicious white flesh wrapping its single seed looks quite similar.
The jocote is also known as the Spanish plum or red mombin. This small green fruit turns reddish or yellow when ripe and has a single seed. Also known as sineguela, it is eaten either ripe or green. Many eat the fruit before it's ripe in the Philippines, and the green fruit is preferred with salt.
Don't forget the berries! They might not be in season at New Year's, but in case you run out of other fruits to complete your set of 12, you might as well consider checking the frozen aisle to find frozen berries such as blueberries. Considering frozen berries might be your last resort for completing your 12 fruits.
Blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are good addition for your bowl of fruits if you can find them around the New Year's season.
There you go—that's much more than 12 or 13 ideas for round fruits! Make a list of them ahead of time so that you are prepared each year when you find yourself asking "What are those 12 round fruits again?"