BalikBayani République | Tony Alabastro
To greet Year of Metal Ox, Lions awakened in eye-dotting ceremony to celebrate good health, and dance to bring good fortune and blessing, are discouraged in pandemic times.
Red and gold lions jump from pole to pole, and gobble ang pao, red packets hidden in green lettuce leaves, as gong, drum and cymbals erupt.
We wish you zing lian qua lei! Gong xi fa chai! Wishing you a Happy New Year. Congratulations on your good fortune!
Reggie See greets everyone ‘Gong Xi Fa Chai’ and ‘Good Health’ with a red packet for good luck, good health and wealth, and to face challenges.
His black Mandarin jacket, first worn by Chinese horsemen, and later designed as ceremonial outfit, accents Chinese New Year Eve’s reunion dinner, now done on socially-distanced video calls.
Red, joy’s color, is said to have scared off mythical beast Nian, which, on New Year’s Day would eat livestock, crops and villagers in ancient China.
“Fish is symbolic,” Reggie, in a fish-decorated red shirt, says. Pronunciation of fish in Chinese sounds like ‘surpluses” or “profit.” Fish is always part of the festive table.
Tossed with chopsticks for continued wealth and prosperity: Yu (abundance) Sheng (increase) raw fish on vegetable bed with carrots (blessings), pomelo and lime (wealth), green radish (eternal youth), white radish (promotion), pepper (attracts money), sprinkled with peanuts (household filled with gold) and sesame seeds (flourishing business) to symbolize household filled with gold and silver.
Thick and non-sticky on pan tikoy symbolizes prosperity, harmony, and balance and close family ties. Fourth generation Ever Beauty Precious (Eng Bee Tin) round, vacuum packed and steamed white or brown tikoy is sugar-free and comes with salted egg, minced pork, chorizo, and salted fish.
Peonies, flower of riches on scroll, symbolizes honor, good fortune and a happy marriage. Pink plum blossoms symbolize luck.
Spread open giant fan on wall symbolizes kindness or goodness, which the Chinese calligraphy character for the word fan sounds like.
Symbol of wealth on the cashier’s counter is a round, green pomelo.
Radish cake made of shredded radish and flour is Hokkien homophone for “good fortune“.
Sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf symbolizes eternity or rebirth. Lotus flower sleeps at night and awakens at sunrise.
Dumplings resemble ancient Chinese ingots and a symbol of prosperity.
Mandarin oranges, given in pairs, symbolize gold
Because Chinese New Year is an auspicious celebration, Reggie explains other popular greetings:
“Wan Su Lu yi means a million tasks are successful. Sen yi xin rong means ‘business is prosperous’.
Pu pu kau sen means ‘every step is progressive, better’.
Qin yui man tang means ‘gold and jade fill up your pavilion or home’.
Hua kai fu kui means ‘flower blooms bring wealth’.
Lian lian yeo yu means ‘every year in abundance or profitable’.
Sin sian shi chen means ‘whatever your heart desired is successful’.
Chu ni sen chi jian kang means ‘wishing you good health’.”
On 15th day of Chinese New Year is first night of full moon.