The 1st of February 2022 marked the day of Chinese New Year - the year of the Tiger. But what happens on Chinese New Year? Why is it celebrated? And most importantly, what does it mean to the community who do celebrate it? Well, I have shared some fun and intriguing facts about Chinese New Year and how our fellow Chinese-Filipinos have celebrated this festive year, both in the UK and in the Philippines.
Just to give you some historical background: In the Philippines, there are approximately 5 million people who are classed as Chinese-Filipinos, making up nearly 5 percent of the Philippine population. Chinese-Filipinos are also known as ‘Tsinoy’, a Filipino of Chinese Heritage with most inheritance origins from Hokkien ancestry.  Due to the influences and the population of the Chinese within the Filipino community, Chinese New Year was declared a special non-working holiday by the Senate in the Philippines in 2011, as a sign of goodwill and amity between the Philippines and China. Nowadays, if any Filipino citizens are working during this holiday, they are entitled to 30 percent extra pay for the hours worked.  What a win-win!
For many Filipinos who celebrate Chinese New Year, they choose to either make preparations, cook at home, share the festivities with close family and friends and/or, go to ‘Binondo’, the Chinatown in the Philippines and on record, the oldest Chinatown in the world, established in 1594. There, you can enjoy various street foods such as ‘Tikoy’, a glutinous sticky rice cake commonly made or bought on this festive day. Tikoy is thought to bring families closer together, and to symbolise a ‘higher year’ to come. Alongside this, other traditional Filipino foods such as pancit, fish, fruits and other Filipino favourites such as ube yam and pandan treats can also be found in restaurants, stores and street venues. You can also buy lucky charms and decorations, and witness the Lion and Dragon dance on the colourful streets of Binondo. 
Throughout the day, many people take the opportunity to make as much noise as they can, traditionally through fireworks and firecrackers as a way to scare off evil spirit, bad luck and the mystical beast called ‘Nian’. But for others, they like to be creative, and so as unconventional as it may seem, do not be shocked to find Filipinos using pots and pans, horns or basins as sole-winners of making loud, lively festivities in households at this time of year! Chinese New Year is also an exciting time for children to receive red envelopes called ‘Ang Pao’, specially wrapped money gifted from their elders as a symbol of good luck to the giver and receiver.  I think that counts for young adults too! Hehe…
Overall, Chinese New Year is something that anyone can celebrate, participate and enjoy with friends, family or even to immerse yourself in the wonders of Chinese culture. Although it is not widely celebrated in the UK as it is in the Philippines, festivities could be heard from miles away in Chinatown, London, where you could experience a taste of Chinese cuisine and decorations from a range of restaurants, bakeries, bubble tea and their very own Dragon dance performances!
For anyone who celebrated Chinese New Year with friends, family or by yourself, we hope you all had a wonderful time and may your fortunes this year be prosperous and hopeful.
 Tagalog Lang, “Chinese New Year in the Philippines” (2022) https://www.tagaloglang.com/chinese-new-year-in-the-philippines/ [accessed on 31st January 2022]  Senate of the Philippines, “Senate declares Chinese New Year as special working holiday” (2013) http://legacy.senate.gov.ph/press_release/2013/0121_prib1.asp [accessed on 5th February 2022]  Asia Society, Philippines, “Chinese New Year Celebrated in the Philippines” (2022) https://asiasociety.org/philippines/chinese-new-year-celebrated-philippines#:~:text=It%20was%20the%20very%20first,declared%20by%20President%20Benigno%20S [accessed on 31st January 2022}  Office Holidays Ltd, “Chinese New Year in Philippines in 2023” (2022) https://www.officeholidays.com/holidays/philippines/chinese-new-year [accessed on 31st January 2022]  FilipinoPod101.com Blog, “How to Celebrate the Filipino-Chinese New Year” (2020) https://www.filipinopod101.com/blog/2020/01/06/filipino-chinese-new-year/ [accessed on 31st January 2022]  https://www.zenrooms.com/blog/post/chinese-new-year-philippines/ [accessed on 31st January 2022]