Today, the Chinese community celebrates the most festive holiday in their culture, Lunar New Year. The event marks the new year on the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar. Preparations usually start long before the day itself.
If you’ve been to Binondo before or during the Lunar New Year, you’ll see that the streets are adorned with bright red Chinese lanterns and bustling with activity as residents in the area as they prepare the food, events, and other festivities to commemorate the celebration. They even go far as arranging fireworks to light up the night sky on the eve of the new year.
However, since the Chinese believe in many superstitions, there are other customs that they adhere to for the Lunar New Year.
The most common tradition is already evident in the streets, stores, and homes as they’re embellished from top to bottom with gold and red decorations because they believe that these invite good fortune. But decorating with symbolic items is only one of the many customs practiced during the Lunar New Year.
Some stores and houses even decorate their entrances with small fruit-bearing trees like mandarin orange because the round fruits signify wealth.
Another good example is how the Chinese clean and declutter their homes to remove the bad luck that accumulated from the previous year. Cleaning the house may seem more like a chore than a tradition, but it also signifies a fresh start. But cleaning the house shouldn’t reach midnight since it’s considered bad luck to clean during the first day of the new year as it may wipe away the good luck that has just entered a home or establishment.
Speaking of cleaning up, it’s customary to tie loose ends before a new year to prevent debts or unsettled accounts from becoming a problem that will follow you into the next year.
Going shopping is also a common tradition during Chinese New Year. Historically, the new year was a chance for hardworking Chinese workers to relax and spend their hard-earned money on new clothes, furniture, and gifts for their loved ones since gift-giving is a usual practice in Chinese culture.
Unfortunately, the surging COVID-19 cases are posing a threat to the annual celebration that used to bring lively sounds, colors, and captivating performances from taking to the streets. But many in the Chinese community didn’t let this dampen their festive spirits as they found new ways to celebrate the joyous event without risking their health and safety.
Food is another staple in celebrating the Lunar New Year. Families gather around to partake in a delectable meal that brings them together. While they usually visit Chinese restaurants to dine, opting to have food delivered in their homes is one way to keep with tradition without risking their health and that of their families.
Praying in temples also counts as an important tradition in the preparation for the Lunar New Year. The once crowded places of worship are now facing dwindling attendees because of the global pandemic. Devout believers took the practice of praying to their gods and ancestors inside the safety of their homes by establishing prayer altars. There are several customs that the Chinese community follows during the Lunar New Year. Although it may vary from family to family, celebrating the Lunar New Year is a festive event that brings people together as they welcome a fresh start abundant with prosperity and fortune.