Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Spring Festival

The Christmas season is a big holiday here in predominantly-Catholic Philippines. We had a very long Christmas break, much longer than that of other countries. In China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and other Chinese-dominated countries though, the festival that they look forward to is the Spring Festival. In fact, in China, people have started flocking back to their home provinces in order to celebrate the festival with their families. It is going to be a long break for them, as work stops on January 22, 2009, and will resume only on February 2, 2009. Chinese New Year falls on January 26, somewhere in the middle. It marks the beginning of the Year of the Ox (so now, it's still the Year of the Rat, since it's not Chinese New Year yet).

Here in the Philippines, Chinese New Year is just another ordinary working day for Filipinos. Except for some treats like Tikoy (sweet cakes), the Chinese Lion and Dragon Dances and traffic on the roads going to the temples.

Our family makes it a point to have dinner together on the eve of Chinese New Year. The father's side of the family gets together for dinner, give out ang paos (red envelopes with money inside) to youngsters and unmarrieds. Some families even have fireworks.

On Chinese New Year's Day itself, we wake up to a breakfast of misua (thin noodles) and tikoy (sweet cakes). People (not everybody coz it's not an official holiday here and people have to go to work), mostly housewives and children studying in Chinese schools (where classes are usually called off) go to light incense in as many temples as they can. Chinatown is teeming with people and there are demos of dragon and lion dances. :) I used to go with my grandmother and mother when I was still studying in elementary and high school (since I was studying in a Chinese school), but when I entered college I couldn't since there were classes. Now I can't because of work. Oh well.

It's just a simple celebration really, not like the Christmas celebrations that we have here. But we always look forward to it because it is something traditional and cultural. I'm sure the celebrations in China are more elaborate. I'd enjoy carrying on this tradition to my children and I hope they'd pass it on to their children.


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