Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year, marks the end of the Chinese lunar calendar. It is celebrated all around the world, but it’s also widely popular in the Philippines. Its essence has been adopted by the Philippine culture due to the Chinese influence on the country. Hence why Chinese New Year is always a fun and exciting time for Filipinos.
Here are some ways Filipinos celebrate the season.
Filipino Traditions on Chinese New Year
Red for Good Luck
In the Chinese culture, the color red has always been a symbol of good luck. Filipinos have also adopted this belief, so they wear red clothing and decorate their homes with red ornaments on Chinese New Year. It is believed to attract luck, happiness and positive energy for the coming year.
The red envelopes, also known as hong bao (Mandarin) or ang pao (Hokkien), are always present on Chinese New Year. The elderly place new bills inside the envelopes, and give them to the single younger individuals. These envelopes are also hung outside homes and establishments, and are picked up by the dragon/lion dancers as they go past.
Dragon or Lion Dance
Dragon or lion dance is usually performed in areas with big Chinese community. It’s a form of entertainment where performers hold up a dragon or lion as they dance. They move along to the beat of the drums as they pass through houses and establishments to pick up ang pao’s. To differentiate the two, a dragon is longer and usually consists of eight dancers, while a lion only has two.
Chinese New Year in the Philippines is never complete without tikoy. Also referred to as nian gao, which means year cake, tikoy is usually wrapped in red boxes with Chinese symbols. It is given as a gift to business partners, neighbours, colleagues and friends during the festivity. Like any other Chinese belief, tikoy also symbolises something. Its sweetness signifies sweetness and joy amongst families. Its round shape, on the other hand, represents money and prosperity.
Chinese New Year’s Greetings
Since Chinese New Year is quite a big celebration in the Philippines, Filipinos have learned to greet each other the Chinese way too! Most Filipino-Chinese speak Hokkien and say Kiong Hee Huat Tsai. Other variations are Gong Xi Fa Cai (Mandarin) or Kung Hei Fat Choi (Cantonese). Most Filipinos know these wishes, and greet one another during the festive season.
Chinese New Year is indeed a big celebration in the Philippines. It’s just one way to represent the great relationship of the Chinese and Filipinos.
Chinese New Year is also celebrated by Chinese communities around Canada. Some of the bigger and more popular events are hosted in Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, Ottawa and Montreal. Filipinos in Canada can join and take part in these events. Others may choose to send money back to the their loved ones in the Philippines.
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