Chinese people have made their homes in the Philippines for many hundreds of years, so it's not surprising that Chinese influence is enormous and extends to every corner of society, culture - and of course food.
The Chinese New Year is no exception. The Philippines plays host to huge Chinese New Year celebrations and the festivities are enjoyed by Filipinos all around the world.
This important time of the year centres around two things: family and food. And when it comes to food, nothing symbolises Chinese New Year more to Filipinos than tikoy. It’s a centrepiece for the festivities.
A sweet cake
Tikoy is made from glutinous rice flour, wheat starch, salt, water and sugar, with the colour of the cake depending on whether you use white or brown sugar. You can also add other ingredients – some add dates, for example.
Tikoy is thought to have derived from the nian gao cake of southern China, which Fujianese immigrants likely brought to the Philippines in the late 19th century.
The Filipino word tikoy is adapted from the Hokkien/Fujian word for this delicacy: ti (sweet) ke (cake).
The Mandarin pronunciation of “tikoy” - nian gao (nian - sticky; gao - cake) can also sound like the Mandarin for “higher year” (nian - year; gao - higher). Tikoy is, therefore, considered a symbol of a “higher year”, or better times to come.