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Of mooncakes and red envelopes

We would be ringing in the New Year (once again) in the Philippines by the 25th of January. 

Of mooncakes and red envelopes

Aside from your typical global celebration of New Year’s eve at the end of December, a group called the Tsinoys or a fusion of Filipinos and Chinese has this celebration called Lunar New Year.

 This year, 2020, we would be ushering in the Year of the Metal Rat. So much for Racumins, Pest Reject and other types of pest control.

In the 15th century, there was an emergence of Chinese presence in the country during the Galleon Trade. 

According to Wu Jiewei, Deputy Dean of the School of Foreign Languages and professor of the Southeast Asian Cultural Studies, the first products included in the trade were kamote or sweet potato and tobacco between the East and West coasts of the Pacific from Manila to Acapulco. 

Thanks to the proclamation of Former President Benigno Aquino III, the Lunar New Year has now been integrated into our list of national holidays, stating that “this is a manifestation of our solidarity with our Chinese-Filipino brethren who have been part of our lives in many aspects as a country and as a people.” 

If Fiesta Hams and Queso de Bolas are the stars of the show during the Christmas season, in this case, Tikoy, a tasty treat made out of sticky rice spearheads the festivity. 

It would hit the shelves from January to February (but in the case of my favorite nearby Chinese store, which carries the purple color motif, it is on sale all year round). 

Next off, Red Envelopes! Aaahhh, you can’t call the Lunar New Year a Lunar New Year if this little item is bereft in the equation. We all know that the color red in Chinese is considered as a lucky color, so proves the culture of inserting fresh-smelling peso bills inside the ANG PAO. (When was the last time you’ve received an ANG PAO from your Ninongs and Ninangs?) 

Lastly, would be the iconic Dragon and Lion Dance. According to the website, chinahighlights.com, “The lion symbolizes power, wisdom and superiority. People perform lion dances at Chinese festivals or big occasions to bring good fortune and chase away evil spirits.” while according to the National Library of Singapore, “the dragon dances are believed to have control over water, rain, hurricanes, and floods. They also represent power, strength and good luck and blessings for the community.”

To our friends at the Filipino-Chinese community, Kiong Hee Huat Tsai/ Kung Hei Fat Choi/ Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Topics: Lunar New Year , Benigno Aquino III , Southeast Asian Cultural Studies , Red Envelopes , Wu Jiewei , Year of the Metal Rat
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