The Filipino-Chinese New Year
With the Chinese New Year or Spring Festival just around the corner on 31 January, many of our Filipino-Chinese or Tsinoy friends are already busy preparing for the big day. But what exactly is going on every Chinese New Year in the Philippines? How is it different from the New Year’s Eve celebrations?
Special non-working holiday
Because of the size of the Tsinoy community in the Philippines, and to promote solidarity between the Chinese and Filipino communities, President Aquino had declared Chinese New Year’s day a special non-working holiday last year under Proclamation No 655 Series 2013. This means that some businesses can close for the day to be one with the celebrations.
So if they have option to close their shops, what do the Tsinoys do during this momentous day?
New Year: the Tsinoy way
New Year’s Eve and Chinese New Year in the Philippines are similar in some ways in that there is feasting and a gathering of extended families as a sort of homecoming celebration. But it also puts great emphasis in the tradition of inviting luck and good fortune by mixing the occasion with some elements of gift-giving and redecorating.
The very social and prosperous celebration of the Tsinoy community has made it an iconic occasion in the Philippines even for families that do not have Chinese heritage. Ask any Filipino what a tikoy (sticky rice cake) is and they would know. Tikoy is to Chinese New Year as fruit cake is to New Year’s Eve. For Tsinoys and some other Filipinos, tikoy makes the best gift to give this day.
Just like Christmas, kids also receive gifts in the form of money stashed in red envelopes called ang pao. Red is considered a very lucky colour, and the money inside the ang paos should also be fresh and crisp. To bring more luck to the receiver, Chinese tradition says the amount should be an even number. Meanwhile, some Chinese business owners distribute giveaways to their employees for them to spread prosperity for the year to come.
The more traditional members of the Tsinoy family may also take the occasion to get a new hairstyle or opt to wear Chinese clothing this day as a sort of remembrance for their heritage. Many Filipinos join in the chance to celebrate the occasion through fashion as well by wearing anything red.
The long history of Chinese presence in the Philippines has led some Filipinos to adopt some luck-attracting activities staring this day. Many pay attention to the forecasts of the Chinese Horoscope for the Year of the Wooden Horse. Some participate by attending firecracker and other Chinese shows. Homebodies spend the day cleaning the house, placing round fruits and redecorating their homes following the feng shui forecasts for the year.
The Chinese influence in the country has also made a lot of Filipinos and Tsinoys hungering for Chinese food. Chinese restaurants and places like Chinatown in Binondo become hotspots for foodies at this time of year. Here are some places that will have exciting events lined up for the upcoming Chinese New Year:
Catch traditional lion and dragon dances as they make their way door to door in the establishments that line up the history Ongpin street in Binondo. Treat yourself to some delectable Chinese dishes in the many local restaurants to be found in the area.
SM Manila will be holding exciting promos and freebies for their loyal clients this year. They will also showcase cultural performances days before the New Year’s celebrations.
Many hotels and other Chinese restaurants in the Philippines like the Sofitel Philippine Plaza, Diamond Hotel Philippines, may also hold shows, open special menus and offer group discounts for diners during the New Year’s celebrations.
Don’t hesitate to celebrate the Chinese New Year with our fellow Tsinoys because they are very much a part of our culture. Kung hei fat choy!