The Philippine Origin of Chinese New Year
Kung Hei Fat Choy!
The Chinese New Year is a centuries-old legend that tells of a story of a mythical lion-like monster named Nian (Chinese word for “year”) that preyed on villagers, their crops and their properties. A wise old man counseled the villagers on how to ward off the lion-like monster by making very loud noises and lighting firecrackers and by hanging red paper cutouts and scrolls outside their doors because Nian, the monster is afraid of the color red and noise. Following the wise man’s advice the villagers defeated Nian and it never came back to prey on them again! But, to be sure the monster would not return they repeated the ritual annually on the first day of the year based on the lunar calendar.
Since the Chinese has a strong influence and presence in the Philippines through inter marriages and commerce way back from the time of our ancestors, their customs and traditions have interwoven in our culture and lived on until today. Chinese immigrants who bartered their goods in the Philippines during the 18th and 19th centuries practiced this yearly ritual. Now, Filipino-Chinese communities celebrate Chinese New Year and it has also been declared a yearly national holiday. In all likelihood Manila’s Chinatown will be bristling with activities these coming days in anticipation of the coming of the Year of the Wooden Horse come January 31, 2014! Be enthralled by the sights and sounds of Dragon and Lion dances and popping firecrackers and colorful fireworks, engorge yourself with sticky rice cakes and other sumptuous food in a lavish gastronomic delight, distribute or receive red lucky envelopes! Filipinos for decades have also followed imitated these Chinese rituals to try their luck and achieve prosperity.
So this coming Year of the Wooden Horse greet your Chinese and Filipino friends Kung Hei Fat Choy!
Article written by Gilbert Dadia