Sunday, January 25, 2009

Chinese New Year

Oh my son reminds me it's the Chinese New Year. Oh yeah, Chinese New Year is on Monday, January 26. We are not Chinese but we also celebrate their New Year. We also buy the good fortune foods like the “Tikoy”. It's ground sticky rice flour, steamed and formed like a cake.. Then you will cook that again with beaten eggs on it and fry it…hmm delicious. My kids love this food that’s why they remember to remind me of the Chinese New Year.

Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year. The date of the New Year is determined by the lunar calendar, so festivities begin with the new cycle of the moon that falls between January 21 and February 19. Each year is named for one of 12 symbolic animals in sequence. The animals, in their sequential order, are the rat, ox, tiger, hare, dragon, serpent, horse, ram, monkey, rooster, dog, and boar.

On the first day of the New Year, people put on new clothes to symbolize the discarding of the old year and its misfortunes. Then they take gifts to friends and relatives. The gifts usually include special rice flour cakes (Tikoy) and fruits such as kumquats (small oranges) and oranges. Many adults, particularly married ones, also follow an ancient custom of giving small red packets of money (called hong bao or lai see in Chinese) to children, unmarried adults, and employees or servants. This is my favorite during Chinese New Year because I always received this small red envelope with money inside from my Chinese employer before.

Among the most spectacular festivities of Lunar New Year are the dragon and lion dances. As many as 50 or more people support long dragons and lions made from vibrant paper and cloth while dancing in processions down city streets. The dancers perform to the beating of gongs and drums, while other celebrants perform acrobatic displays. Some of the performers may occasionally reach up to take red money packets or fruits and vegetables hung from storefronts. The celebrations end with the lantern festival, an event in which merchants hang lighted paper lanterns outside their shops. Many of the lanterns rotate with the heat of the candles they contain. Children often parade through the streets during the lantern festival, carrying lanterns of various shapes and patterns.

When I was in Manila , actually in Quiapo, most of the shops and stores there were owned by Chinese. So every year, we watched the very colorful dragon and lion dancing, we also watched at night their beautiful fireworks. And now, this is my 4th year that I will not see the very beautiful Chinese New Year. I miss their fireworks and the parade.