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Kung Hei Fat Choi everyone!

It’s 2012 and another Chinese New Year has come. It’s now the Year of the Dragons. How did you spend your Chinese New Year? Whether you celebrate it or not, you are still curious as to what Chinese do on the eve of their New Year, I know you do.

As for me, it’s my first time celebrating the New Year at my half-Chinese half-Filipino cousin. My boyfriend and I has been here at their house since yesterday, January 22. The first thing I knew was that “red” is their lucky color. It always has been since it signifies good luck and joy. Though it cannot be used during funerals since that color means happiness of course.

And speaking of funerals, another New Year tradition is that they offer foods on the altar of their dead loved ones. They do this during New Year and All Soul’s Day. Various fruits and foods and flowers are being placed in the altars. And then they burn these “Chinese paper money” or commonly known as Joss Paper on a jar. The burning ensures that the spirit of the dead has lots of good things and will be prosperous on after life.

Next thing is that Azi, my niece is given coins in a red pouch by Acoh Bella (Aunt Bella) believing that it’ll bring you more money for this year. Well, that is all I know since this family is not-so-traditional anymore.

Now, for saying Happy New Year in different ways. As you can see in many social networking sites (and even if you google it), you may see different translations of Happy New Year.

Here in Philippines, the common term is “Kung Hei Fat Choi.” Although my niece, Azi says it’s Xin Nian Kuai Le (and she’s just 6 years old! Great!). And as I’m watching “Ni-Hao Kai-lan” she also says Xin Nian Kuai Le. Some says “Kung Hee Huat Tsai.” But what’s the difference?

As I’ve said, “Kung Hei Fat Choi” is more popular one. But actually, it’s a Cantonese greeting. Also pronounced as “Gong Hey Fat Choi.” Another one is Kung Hee Huat Tsai. It is a Hokkien dialect and mostly of the Chinese-Filipino community here in Philippines speaks hokkien dialect. So I think they’ll really appreciate it if you tell them Kung Hee Huat Tsai.

But did you know that Gong Xi Fa Cai (or however you’ll say it) is not really a “Happy New Year” greeting. Because Gong Xi (恭禧) is congratulations or respectfully wishing one joy and Fa Cai (發財) is to become rich or to make money. Thus, Gong Xi Fa Cai means wishing you to be prosperous in the coming year. A fun way to respond to someone who greets you with Gong Xi Fa Cai is Hong Bao Na Lai, “Red envelope please!

So if you really want to greet them Happy New Year in Mandarin, it’s Xin Nian Kuai Le. And it’s more definite way of saying Happy New Year. Since Xin Nian (新年) is New Year. Xin is new and Nian is year. Kuai le (快樂) is happiness, joy, delight, or rejoicings.

So, Xin Nian Kuai Le.

(PHOTO: Flowers and fruits as an offering to the altar of amah.)

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(PHOTO: The burning of Joss Paper – Chinese Paper money.)

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(PHOTO: Azi at Acoh Bella’s big Chinese altar)

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(PHOTO: Acoh Bella and Azi at Acoh’s house)

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(PHOTO: ME, Auntie Cha, Len and her kids. We all are wearing red in celebration of Chinese New Year.)Image

(PHOTO: Me and my BF having a shoot taken by Len. And he’s in red too. Nice Babe!)

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