Happy Chinese New Year!

“KUNG hei fat choy!”

“Kiong hee huat tsai!”

You will hear both Chinese New Year greetings today – the first in Cantonese (mainly spoken in Guandong, Hong Kong and Macau), the second in Fukien (from Fukien, China and its neighboring provinces).

Feb. 5 having been declared a special non-working holiday, let us expect more people to go out and have more fun in the urban centers of the Philippines. This writer plans to go mall-hopping in red t-shirt, consistent with the Chinese belief that the color red attracts energy, happiness and good luck.

It’s usually at the malls where I meet Chinese friends who give away ang pao (small red envelope with paper bill) – their way of sharing good fortune and sending good luck to recipients. Levity aside, I would not refuse one if given, lest the giver be insulted.

It’s also at the malls where we witness the “Dragon and Lion” dances. In the Dragon dance, up to 50 people line up, hold sticks under dragon skin and wiggle to the beat of Chinese music. They are led by a man holding a dragon ball. The dragon was the symbol of the Chinese emperors’ power, wisdom and productivity.

The Lion dance requires two persons  spaced apart, dressed in the shape of the four-legged dancing animal with wiggling ears and blinking eyes.

The Chinese New Year of 2019 falls today (Feb. 5). The date varies every year because it coincides with the new moon that appears between Jan. 21 and Feb. 20.  In China, the Chinese New Year marks the beginning of the 15-day Spring Festival, during which all family members get together, just like Christmas in the Philippines.

The Filipino culture has been influenced by prominent “Chinoys” – slang for Chinese-Filipino residents. Filipinos are known to partake in the celebration by means of having Chinese food and consulting fortune tellers for good luck.

Filipino-Chinese communities in the Philippines celebrate Chinese New Year every year, hoping to attract prosperity, closer family ties and peace. They clean their homes thoroughly, serve sweet foods and display various food and fruits on a table to invite good fortune. People also participate in parades and dragon dances on the streets of different.

We are awed by the success of Chinese-Filipinos in the business sector. Among the richest people in Asia are Chinese-Filipinos, such as the late Henry Sy, John Gokongwei, Tony Tan Caktiong, Lucio Tan and Andrew Tan.

While it is unclear when the celebration of the New Year began in China, the most popular version is that it started as a religious ceremony during the Shang Dynasty (1766 BC – 1122 BC).

Each year in the Chinese calendar is represented by one of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac.  The present year 2019 is the year of the Pig, the 12th animal, which symbolizes diligence, compassion, and generosity.

The next year, 2020, belongs to the first animal in the zodiac, followed respectively by Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster and Dog.

Chinese fortune tellers speak well of 2019 as the year of the Earth Pig — a year of fortune and luck – a great year to make money, and a good year to invest!

The Earth Pigs are social butterflies with friends from all walks of life. They have a lot of support in both work and life. They have fortunate lives and can find happiness. They get more successful later in life. However, they aren’t the most romantic people and might need to work on that. (hvego31@gmail.com/PN)


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