The streets of the oldest Chinatown in the whole world are filled with people to join the celebration of the most important traditional Chinese holiday, the Chinese New Year or traditionally known as the Spring Festival. It is in Binondo where you can find one of the best celebrations of the first day of the Lunar New Year in the Philippines as it became the major economic and cultural center of Chinese in the country after they established it in 1594. This 2013, Chinese New Year falls on Sunday, February 10.
Manila's local "China Town", Binondo is bustling with people who are joining the colorful festivity of the Chinese New Year. Alive in bright colors, you can feel the festive atmosphere as every street are filled with traditional decorations, greetings and goodies. This is the reason why it became a hub to many visitors during the first day of the Lunar Year. Binondo is an exciting ethnic enclave to discover the culture of the Chinese in the Philippines.
As you enter the Arch of Goodwill, you can notice that every side of the street was plentiful of lucky charms and traditional decorations, some made of kiat-kiats, gingers, pineapples and "ampao" flaunting the Chinatown with red and gold. These charms are believed as ushers of good energy.
Most visitors are lining up for the lucky “tikoy” or known in Chinese as "nian gao" which is a homonym for "higher year". It is considered good luck to eat during this time because it symbolizes unity and harmony among friends and family. They offer tikoy to the Kitchen God aiming that his mouth will be stuck with the sticky cake. Because of this, he can't badmouth ones family to the God of all Gods.
As you walk along the streets, you can hear the thundering beats of the drums, the clangs of the cymbals and the bangs of the firecrackers as the Lion and the Dragon Dancers perform. This is a tradition in any festive Chinese celebrations especially during the Chinese New Year, which they believe it drives away bad spirit and bring forth good fortune to their life. In dragon dance, the performers dramatize the movements of dragons that symbolize power and dignity.
This tradition of celebrating the Chinese New Year is really one of a kind. As a culture junkie, my 3-hour walk in Binondo means so much to me as I became part of the most important Chinese festival. Aside from soaking up the colorful streets festooned with gorgeous decorations and treated my taste-buds with great Chinese foods, I learned many things by once embracing their culture. To all my Chinese friends, Kung Hei Fat Choi!
"It's easy to create beautiful projects out of the things you see around your house. Just be creative." -Noks Sosa
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