My family has been receiving and eating tikoy (or Nian gao , a sticky rice cake of the Chinese) every Chinese New Year (aka Lunar New Year) but it was only a few years ago when classes and work are off during the actual day. In contrast to the “Solar” New Year which is always held on the first day of January, the Lunar New Year is held either towards the end of January or towards the beginning of February.
I am no Chinese but here are some of the usual things people do during Chinese New Year.
- Eat tikoy (and more tikoy). Most of the people I know (even myself) prepare tikoy in Guangdong (and Fujian) style, which is usually battered with egg and deep fried. It is traditionally a rice cake made with, yes, rice, and either white or brown sugar. However, some hopia companies like Eng Bee Tin already sell their tikoy in other flavors like Pandan, Strawberry and Matcha. They even sell tikoy rolls for those who opt to go solo.
- Watch dragon dances. There used to be a time when dragon dance performances are only seen in Binondo, a Filipino-Chinese district in Manila. However, due to economic reasons, some malls have already started to showcase dragon dances within their corridors. I have even seen a dragon dance in the Salcedo Community Market in Makati.
- Explore more Chinese food. Binondo is the usual one-stop shop for those who want to crave for Chinese food. There are actually more Fil-Chi restaurant rows outside Binondo like Banawe (western side of Quezon Avenue) and Little Baguio in San Juan. Sincerity Cafe has even opened a branch in Robinson’s Magnolia and even serves dishes which are at par with the ones served in their Binondo branch. I also saw a Wai Ying branch along Taft Avenue, near De La Salle University.
- Wear red. For the Chinese, the color red is significant for them since it symbolized prosperity and celebration. If it happens that a Chinese friend invited you for a Lunar New Year feast, always wear red.
- Cook dishes. Especially those that are said to bring luck. Fried noodles (or pansit) for longer life and Steamed Lapu-Lapu (a type of fish) for prosperity.
- Decorate with red lanterns. Ayt. ‘Nuff said.
Gong Xi Fa Cai! Enjoy your tikoy! 😀