The revelries for the celebration of the Chinese New Year is on-going in many places in the Philippines particularly in the Tsinoy or Filipino-Chinese community in Binondo, Manila. The official CNY happens on Feb. 10, and yet everyone are all busy celebrating and joining auspicious festivities such as the yearly tradition of dragon and lion dance to sweep away misfortunes and brings good luck to all. Believers already hang or buy lucky charms, such as water snakes figurines and other ornaments which symbolizes this year’s Year of the Water Snake.
Chinese superstition believe that this year will be filled with abundance and favorable surprises and to attract these blessings, one must wear the color red at the start of the CNY and green all year round. According to Chinese New Year traditions and lucky charms, red and green are the colors of the Water Snake.
We visited Binondo two days before the grand festival, and we saw a lot of stores and vendors in the streets selling different ornaments and lucky charms, some we are familiar with and some we were surprised to see for the first time. Kiat-kiat, grapes, and pineapple are just few of the rounded fruits believed to bring good luck to those who will display them or eat them during the celebration. Tikoy or sticky rice cake means stronger bonding ties among the family.
But have you heard of rice twigs, gabi (taro) and ginger as lucky charms? Well, we saw these on the streets and we asked the vendors what they symbolize. They told us that rice twigs is for food abundance. It must be hang in the front door and undoing so, household will never be hungry for the year round. Gabi or taro (with shape like small turtles) represents bonding relationships within the family and works as fertility charm. While the ginger roots are used to drive-away bad spirits, according to one vendor we talked to.
Learned something today? That goes the same for us also. The Chinese New year may not be an original Filipino festival but each festivities give us something to learn about.
Did you know that Binondo in Manila is the oldest Chinatown in the world? Also, the word tikoy is a Filipino word to describe sticky rice cakes (nián gāo).
To experience more festive CNY, why don’t you go out and visit Chinatown in Binondo to be part of the Lunar or Chinese New Year. Visit malls like the SM Supermalls for their grand CNY celebrations.
Photos by iShootPh.
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