Chinese New Year 2016: Tikoy, Ang Pao, the color red and everything you need to know

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Chinese New Year 2016: Tikoy, Ang Pao, the color red and everything you need to know
Here's to your health, prosperity and many blessings!

The Philippines will be celebrating the Chinese New Year on February 8, 2016 -- the Year of the Fire Monkey. Or if you prefer, it’s the year 4714 on the lunar calendar.

Celebrated for over 5,000 years in China, the Chinese New Year may have been first observed in the Philippines hundreds of years ago, dating back right up to the 10th century. The early Chinese, arriving via sampans, subsequently created settlements in Luzon and in the Visayas, some of which became the biggest and most powerful barangays, or city-states in the Philippines.

Today, the Chinese-Filipino community (also known as the Tsinoys), comprises about 18-27% of the Philippine population, totaling up to 30 million people -- around 2 million of them are with pure Chinese ancestry.

On February 8, Chinatowns all over the country (to include the BInondo district in Manila and Banawe Street in Quezon City) will resound with firecrackers and ceremonial lions will romp in the streets.


Culture and Tradition

Within China, there exists many regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the Chinese New Year. The Tsinoys have brought most of these customs here and were quickly adopted by the Filipinos.

Reunion Dinner - Often, the evening preceding Chinese New Year's Day is an occasion for Chinese families to gather for the annual reunion dinner.

Cleaning - It is also traditional for every family to thoroughly cleanse the house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for good incoming luck.

The Color Red - Windows and doors will be decorated with red color paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of "good fortune" or "happiness", "wealth", and "longevity". To most, hanging red lanterns on windows of houses and offices also means "good luck" for the entire year. Other activities include lighting firecrackers and giving money in red paper envelopes called "ang pao (Mandarin)" or "hong bao (Hokkien)".

Dragon and Lion Dances - A symbolic ritual to usher in the Chinese New Year as well as to evict bad spirits from the premises. A chain of about four to eight people group together to wear red costumes of the Lion or Dragon and dance along the streets. These represents prestige and good fortune.

Tikoy - Originally from the Chinese word "ti kuih" and is also called Niangao (nin gou in Cantonese). Sometimes translated as year cake or Chinese New Year's cake, the yummy tikoy is a food prepared from glutinous rice. While it can be eaten all year round, traditionally it is most popular during Chinese New Year. It is considered good luck to eat nian gao during this time, because "nian gao" is a homonym for "higher year."

TRIVIA: This sticky sweet snack was believed to be an offering to the Kitchen God, with the aim that his mouth will be stuck with the sticky cake, so that he can't badmouth the human family in front of the Jade Emperor.


RECIPE / HOW TO COOK TIKOY:


  • Grease the pudding basin; prepare a pot of hot water for steaming;
  • Batter glutinous rice flour and Cheng flour; add coconut milk and mix well to become paste;
  • Pour water into a pot and oil it, turn simmering and add sugar, let it cool and mix with the paste. Keep mixing to avoid producing powder;
  • Put back the batter into the pot, then simmer and stir constantly with a wooden spoon, until the batter changes into a paste;
  • Add corn oil and mix well, and then cover the pudding basin, cover with aluminum foil and place in hot water to steam for about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  • Serve and enjoy!



According to Chinese elders, the Year of the Fire Monkey will be a good year for innovation and improvisation. Business should thrive under the monkey's influence.

You can read how we experienced last year's Chinese New Year HERE.


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