Filipino-Chinese citizens welcome the New Year with a Bang!
“Congratulations and be Prosperous!”
Symbols, Tradition and Greetings in Chinese New Year
It is often said that even before the colonization of Spain headed by Portuguese explorer Fernando Magallanes (Ferdinand Magellan) in 1521, the Philippines (formerly known as Pearl of the Orient) was the closest trading partner of China offshore. There was even a joke that even before the arrival of Jesus Christ in the world, they said that there were already Chinese citizens around the world as merchants. “Where will the Jews buy nails but from us.” That was only part of a joke that shouldn’t be taken seriously; no offense meant.
Chinese people fled their country because of the ironclad imposition of communist government in the land. When 18th century arrived, they slowly shared their culture to the neighboring countries, including Philippines. After all, there are about 60 percent of Filipino-Chinese living in the country. They celebrate the New Year with a noisy parade often highlighted by fireworks and dragon dances.
Almost all people in a village or city participate in the parade, including the elders to be with the parade of flags, stars, drums, and of course, fireworks to drive away evil spirits. Recent survey declares that almost 70 per cent of Chinese race are spread around the world.
Happy New Year
Chinese greetings from different parts of China differ slightly according to their dialects and national language which is the Mandarin.
In a traditional Chinese language: Pinyin: Guo Nian Hlo, in Hookien: Keong Hee Huat Chye (Kiong-hi-hoat-chai), Cantonese: Gong Hei Fat Coi and Hakka: Gong Hei Fat Choi, which means “Congratulations and be prosperous!”
The greetings is often mistaken as “Happy New Year”, even it is being used for several centuries now. A legend explains that a congratulatory message was inserted to pacify the raging Nian. But in practical term, it is done to escape the extreme cold weather, and the last two words were added that became the idea in capitalism and business in the Chinese society around the world.
There are many kinds of greetings that should be uttered aloud. Another example is the breaking of a mirror every New Year while a member of a family or friend will immediately say “Sui Sui Ping!”which means a long reign of peace the whole year round. Sui means age. It is also the same when you say, “Nian Nian Yu Yu!” It will mean you want more luck and harvest every year wherein the word “yu” means fish because it is the main food for the New Year celebration and the paintings or graphics that are displayed consist mainly of fish, including the gifts.
The greetings will be said before the children receive their AngPao (the red envelope), before exchanging gifts at home, while visiting the temple and or while they are preparing the ingredients for yusheng, especially in Malaysia and Singapore. Children want the soft substance or money bills not the hard substance or coins be put inside the AngPao.
New Year Plants and Flowers
New Year markets will sell the following flowers and other plants that can be decorated during the celebration.
Plum Blossom - Symbol of Luck
Kumquat - Symbol of Prosperity
Narcissus - Another Symbol of Prosperity
Chrysanthemum - Symbol of Long Life or Longevity
Bamboo - It is used the whole year round.
Sunflower - It means Lucky Year.
Eggplant - It cures diseases and sickness.
Chom Mon Plant - It brings good health to the owner.
Pictures, Display and Ornamental Icons
Fish. The Koi Fish is often seen on paintings. A food decoration out of fish can also be seen that symbolizes of luck and fortune or success.
Decorations. Chinese calligraphy poster contains Chinese idioms. Other New Year pictures are Chinese knots, paper cutting and couplets.
Dragon Dance and Lion Dance. The more the louder the beating of the drums and the loudest bangs of cymbals coupled the movement of lion’s and dragon’s heads will drive away evil spirits. The dance is also apparent when opening business.
Fortune Gods. Cai Shen Ye, Che Kung, etc.
Red is the dominant color when celebrating the New Year. Red is an emblem of happiness, truth, importance and sincerity. Candies, cakes (sticky rice cake or tikoy), decoration and other things are also made of red color.
The Chinese word for red is “Hong” as in (Hongkong) which means prosperity.