The Chinese Lunar New Year, as the name suggests, starts with the new moon that appears between late January and early February. In the Chinese culture, the Chinese New Year festivities is also known as the Spring Festival.
Things to Do in Binondo: Celebrate the Chinese New Year Activities
Outside of China, this New Year is also celebrated in the world, and in places with a sizeable Chinese population. One of them is the Philippines, with the epicenter at Binondo, Manila, where a large Filipino-Chinese community resides.
Regarded as the world’s oldest Chinatown, Binondo is the place to go for those who want to experience a traditional Chinese New Year celebration. That said, there is no better way to welcome the year of the Wooden Dragon this February 10 than immersing in the festivities of this neighborhood.
Below, we explore the many activities you can do in Binondo to make your Chinese New Year more meaningful.
How to make the most of your Chinese New Year celebration in Binondo
In the heart of Metro Manila, Binondo stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of the Chinese community that has long settled in the country.
Known for its well-kept traditions, Binondo beckons thousands of visitors each year, whether for the first time or as returning revelers who look forward to the merriment and revelry of the season. This is a chance to immerse not only in the Lunar New Year celebration but also to trace the roots of Chinese culture in the Philippines.
Whether you want to join the throngs around iconic establishments like the Lucky Chinatown Mall or just want to witness the fireworks displays and mesmerizing dragon dances, Binondo has a treasure trove of activities in store for you.
Activities to attend
Embracing the spirit of festivity, Binondo transforms into a vibrant stage during the Chinese New Year. With the bright lanterns and ornaments come an array of performances and cultural activities that locals and visitors can look forward to.
At exactly midnight, the night sky of Binondo comes alive with a spectacular fireworks display that marks the commencement of the festivities which you can watch up close or from a distance atop the Jones Bridge. In Chinese traditions, fireworks are believed to drive away evil. At the same time, it also supposedly brings in good luck and prosperity.
A Chinese New Year in Binondo would not be complete without witnessing the rhythmic beats of the famed Dragon Dance weaving through the crowd. Like the fireworks display, its main purpose is to bring strength and good luck and ward off evil spirits.
Previous celebrations of Chinese New Year in Binondo have also included a solidarity parade trailed by a display of colors and rhythmic beats.
Stacking lucky charms
For those eager to usher in good fortune and prosperity in the coming year, Binondo is the place to buy auspicious symbols and charms. Walking through the vibrant streets, visitors will find a myriad of stalls and shops dedicated to charms and talismans that are believed to bring prosperity and positive energy.
Here, one can find a wide variety of trinkets from the iconic Chinese zodiac figurines, intricately crafted amulets, or other symbolic tokens that hold the promise of enhanced luck.
No need to worry through your weekend shopping spree, dances of dragons and lions, and all other festivities. Law enforcement visibility is a priority in Binondo, Manila, led by the Manila Police District and volunteers, during the Chinese New Year.
Even outside of the Chinese New Year festivities, Binondo stands as a culinary haven, drawing food enthusiasts from far and wide to indulge in its iconic flavors. Renowned for its diverse and authentic culinary delights, Binondo’s streets are a tapestry of original family recipes meticulously passed down through generations.
One famous destination is Ongpin Street, where the aroma of delectable offerings fills the air. From the sweet smell of the traditional Chinese New Year pudding to the sounds of the sizzling woks, you will find gastronomic experiences in Binondo that will complete your authentic Chinese New Year celebration.
First on the list of food you should not miss in Binondo is tikoy. A symbol of unity and the sweetness of life, tikoy takes center stage on the tables of many Filipino-Chinese households and sold on the streets during Chinese New Year.
This sticky rice cake, often exchanged as a gift, is believed to bring good luck and a harmonious family bond. Its round shape signifies family reunion and the cyclical nature of life. The sticky texture, on the other hand, is thought to stick good fortune to the family throughout the year.
Noodles, with their long and unbroken strands, are synonymous with longevity and are a must-have during Chinese New Year celebrations in Binondo. As families gather to mark the beginning of a new lunar cycle, the lengthy noodles are a wish for a long and prosperous life.
The best New Year noodles are uncut, and it is customary to slurp the noodles without breaking them to ensure a continuous and unbroken path to success and happiness.
In Binondo, the tradition of spring rolls, or “lumpia,” during Chinese New Year is more than a dish. It is also a ritual that hopes to bring wealth and prosperity. These crispy delights, filled with a mixture of vegetables, meat, and sometimes seafood, are meticulously rolled to symbolize the coming together of good fortune.
The golden hue of the spring rolls is associated with wealth and is believed to bring financial success in the coming year. Whether enjoyed as a part of festive banquets or bought from bustling street vendors, these spring rolls in Binondo are a treat that can make anyone feel abundant.
Exchanging red envelopes
Exchanging red envelopes, known as ang pao, is a cherished tradition and a common scene every Chinese New Year in Binondo. These vibrant envelopes, often adorned with symbols of good luck and prosperity, encapsulate the spirit of generosity and well-wishing. Gifting ang pao, filled with money, serves as a token of goodwill and reflects the desire for abundance and prosperity in the coming year.
This time-honored tradition reflects the deep-rooted values of community, family, and unity. In Binondo, the exchange of ang pao spreads joy and reflects the hopes for a year filled with blessings and financial well-being.
These are just some of the activities that you can look forward to if you are planning to celebrate Chinese New Year in Binondo. Aside from Manila, you may also find other Lunar New Year celebrations all over Metro Manila, like those in Quezon City and other parts of the country with Chinese communities.
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