The Filipino culture, a vibrant tapestry woven from various influences, has unmistakably been intertwined with Chinese culture. This strong connection is evident in the way most Filipinos subscribe to Chinese beliefs such as Feng Shui, Chinese zodiac signs, and horoscopes, notwithstanding their Christian faith. It’s also hard to miss the Chinese influence on Filipino cuisine, with dishes like lumpiang shanghai and pancit becoming staple fare during celebrations.
In the Philippines, we don’t just ring in the new year once – we do it twice! The first one is on January 1, following the Gregorian calendar, and then we usher in the Lunar New Year, or more popularly known as the Chinese New Year. If you’re eyeing to immerse yourself in the rich Chinese culture, there’s no better thing to do than celebrate Chinese New Year in Binondo.
Binondo, Manila’s Chinatown, holds the record for being the oldest of its kind in the world. Its rich history coupled with its bustling energy makes it the ideal spot to welcome the Chinese New Year. In this article, we’ll guide you through the must-visit places and must-try activities to fully experience this festive event.
When preparing for a Chinese New Year celebration in Binondo, keep in mind that red is the color of the day. In Chinese culture, red is considered a symbol of good luck and is believed to offer protection against evil spirits.
However, it’s equally important to prioritize comfort. Opt for footwear that is suitable for long walks, which you will most likely do as you explore the busy streets of Binondo. And if you tend to perspire, it might be wise to bring an extra shirt.
Additionally, don’t forget to shield yourself from the sun by wearing a cap or hat. Taking these measures will ensure that you not only look good but also feel good as you enjoy the occasion.
Your Chinese New Year experience in Binondo wouldn’t be complete without witnessing the mesmerizing dragon and lion dances. You can watch them perform on the streets as early as 9 in the morning, or catch them at designated performance areas.
These performances, deeply rooted in tradition, are believed to bring prosperity and good fortune. The rhythmic movements of the dragon and lion captivate spectators, while the vibrant colors and intricate designs of their costumes create a visual spectacle.
Fire dancers further add a thrilling touch to the occasion, with their daring stunts and fiery displays. Additionally, various Chinese music and arts activities highlight the cultural richness of the event, showcasing traditional instruments, dances, and crafts. You should also keep an eye out for wushu martial arts exhibitions, where skilled practitioners demonstrate their discipline and mastery.
Binondo is a bustling shopper’s paradise, particularly during the vibrant Chinese New Year festivities. The lively streets are bustling with a vibrant assortment of street vendors, offering a wide variety of items. From lucky charms and auspicious plants to even animals believed to bring good fortune in the upcoming year, there is something for everyone. The vibrant atmosphere and diverse offerings make it a delightful experience for all.
As you wander through the joyful chaos, you may stumble upon red envelopes, known as ‘ang pao’, traditionally used to gift money and symbolize blessings. Additionally, exquisite fruits like pineapple, pomelo, and other citrus fruits are popular choices for exchanging Lunar New Year greetings.
Lastly, with 2024 being the Year of the Dragon, make sure to seize the opportunity to acquire trinkets that symbolize this auspicious zodiac sign. These are said to invite luck and prosperity, making 2024 a more fruitful year for many aspects of your life.
A Binondo Chinese New Year would not be complete without immersing yourself in its vibrant culinary scene. Indulge in the wide array of delectable food offerings that showcase the rich heritage of Chinese-Filipino cuisine.
Each dish tells a story, reflecting the fusion of flavors and traditions passed down through generations. From savory dumplings and pot stickers to the sweet and sticky tikoy (sticky rice cake), every bite is a delightful exploration of taste and texture. Don’t forget to savor the crispy spring rolls and slurp on the flavorful noodles, as they are believed to bring good luck.
You can also shop pasalubong for your loved ones from Eng Bee Tin and Salazar Bakery. These shops offer delicious hopia (bean-filled pastry) and tikoy packaged beautifully for gifting. This way, you can share the joy and flavors of Binondo’s Chinese New Year celebration with your family and friends.
Lastly, don’t miss the chance to embark on a profound spiritual journey at The Philippine Chinese Buddhist Temple. This serene sanctuary offers a tranquil haven where you can engage in prayer, meditation, and the lighting of incense.
Immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of Buddhist culture, finding solace and inner peace amidst the vibrant and bustling atmosphere of the festivities. Allow the temple’s serene ambiance to envelop your senses as you explore the depths of your spiritual being.
You can also take this opportunity to connect with your inner self and experience a profound sense of tranquility and enlightenment. Let the gentle whispers of the temple guide you on a path of self-discovery and spiritual growth.
Celebrating Chinese New Year in Binondo is more than just a feast for the senses; it’s a meaningful encounter with a culture that has greatly influenced Filipino tradition and lifestyle. As you walk along its busy streets, enjoy its flavors, and participate in its festivities, you’re not just welcoming a new year, but also embracing a rich cultural heritage that continues to thrive amidst modernity. So, ready your red attire, prepare for an epicurean adventure, and gear up for a memorable Chinese New Year in Binondo.