2013: Year of the Snake

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By Chef Ed Dychauco

Pots and Pans

Saturday, February 9, 2013


IT IS time to welcome the Chinese New Year with positive vibes and feel for a better year ahead.

So many things have been said on the radio, printed in papers, websites and social networking sites and shown on TV. And being of Chinese descent, it is just but natural to follow some “guidelines,” traditions and beliefs handed down by my family and associates.

Being a Tsinoy, and I am sure this is also true with a lot of Pinoys who really believe in Fung Shui, luck and charms, I am also bound to follow what I think and feel is good and will bring good tiding and luck to me, my family and people around me.

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Some basic things we all have accepted and have considered to be a part of our heritage which we trusted and follow year after year includes the following:

Fruits. Some say 12, some say 13. Whatever it is, I would say we try to have an assortment of delicious and sweet red, green, yellow and other brightly-colored fruits that are round to represent continuity and prosperity. Actually, I tend to follow this because aside from attracting “luck” for the coming year, it is a lot of fruits to be devoured, which we seldom buy (talk about extra expenses!). Plus the vitamins, fibers and minerals that one gets from these fresh produce! Not bad, huh?

Tikoy, Hopia and other sweets. This little or large sweet delicacies that are made from sticky rice in various flavors, colors, sizes and shapes represents unity in the family. It is said to make members “glue” together, making family and love one cohesive and bonded. It now comes in exciting and exotic flavors with such Pinoy flair when it used to be just plain white and brown (because of the sugar used in making them). We have mango, pandan, ube, green tea, langka, and I won’t be surprised if there would also be durian flavor. It has to be round (represents “money”) but lately, there are fish-shapes, which makes the tikoy a bit more “animating.” What about Hopia? This is another classic favorite of everyone! And also comes in different variants. I was in Chinatown recently and there is such an array of “good luck” goodies, ranging from cookies to candies to delicacies. And they are all packed in gold and red indeed! How sweet it is to receive these goodies at this time of year (and all year round!).

Food. Certain noodles, meats, vegetables, eggs and seafood prepared in a bountiful manner signifies and symbolizes health, wealth and long life. Noodles should be large and “uncut,” fish should be whole, pig’s leg, some exotic fresh water and sea stuffs cooked and presented in a “lucky and auspicious” style, manner and presentation. Remember red?

Ang Pao. Red envelopes filled with money to be given to the young and “young at heart.” Some would refuse the money (I definitely won’t!) but would accept the red envelop. Because the envelop itself is good enough gesture for prosperity and luck.

Lucky Charms, Crystals, Posters and more. Haven’t you noticed that at this time of year so many wall or hanging decors are available in shops and malls? And depending on the animal year, that will be the design most sought and bought. And of course, they are done in Chinese characters which can be for luck, money, health, etc. And they come in gold and red (what else?). Visit some homes and stores and you will see them decorated in their doors and windows. Charms and crystals are said to drive away evil and bad luck and therefore attract good vibration.

Red and Gold. We tend to wear, use and decorate these positive and favorable colors in our abode which again should represent happiness and good fortune and future. Simple explanation is Gold is wealth and money. Red, need I elaborate on this? In fact, these are also considered “happy” colors. Wouldn’t we want to be happy?

Lucky Plants. Jade plant, money tree, ti pant and many more. These are just among the many items I also saw being sold in Chinatown. Perhaps the more practical explanation is to have plants in the house to give us oxygen. Good for our health.

Dragon Dance. Normally seen in large establishments, shows and parades. But I grew up in Chinatown in Binondo where they would perform and visit your house or business (usually with prior notice) which again is said to bring luck and prosperity. We would then give them a red envelop with money inside to the dragon or tiger’s mouth. I have seen these performers going up several stories high (by arranging themselves, acrobatic style, one on top of the other) just to get “gift.” Undeniably an exciting and electrifying act in itself, aside from the loud noise it makes (to drive evil spirits?)

Fire crackers. Well, we have been doing this on the eve December 31 yearly. But technically, this is one fun fare we have been accustomed to for so long and started way back when on this special day.

Circle and Rounds. In the olden time and even now, money comes in round shapes. If I am correct, China invented the money. “Old” coins have holes in the middle which we still have in our five centavo coin. Influenced by Chinese perhaps? It would probably be safe to say that the bigger the circle, the better and the more “swerte”? Wonder how much a huge red, juicy watermelon would cost!

Red, Gold and Circles in One. Now what do we have? A dress? An underwear? A hankie? Tablecloth? Curtain? A House? A Car? And the list goes on. Let’s just say we are trying to attract “luck, health and prosperity.” Make sure you have money in your wallet (or coins so it will make those “cling cling” sounds), something red and/or gold, and the rest mentioned on the eve to usher in the Chinese New Year. Quite a lot?

Attitude and Outlook. As been said so many times, following Fung Shui, doing these rituals, if one would call them such, using charms, food, fruits and everything else is and would not be effective and helpful if one’s attitude is that of being “evil and bad.” It boils down to one’s character, truth and desire to help and be of help, kind heart and sincerity in being a good person inside out. Besides, if one believes, then it is bound to happen and bring luck (is there really such a thing?) and prosperity in us.

Prayer. Having said this again and again, there is the Alpha and the Omega, the Highest, the Supreme Being, God. Have faith, pray and believe. He listens. Again, always remember everything and anything happens for a reason. In His time.

Guideline. Fung Shui is not a religion. It can be called a way of life, but more importantly, it is being in tune with the universe. I always believe that if it doesn’t hurt anyone, why not try it? Who knows? It might just be good for all of us.

Kung Hey Fat Choi! Kiong Hee Hwat Chai!

(Website: www.potsnpans1976.weebly.com, email: potsnpans1976@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on February 10, 2013.

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