Weekend Event: Chinese New Year Celebration

When I was a child, I have witnessed only one way of celebrating the New Year: the Filipino Catholic way – New Year mass, loads of food (with lechon, pansit, and leche flan as the most common foods on the table), New Year greetings, and scores of firecrackers until 2 A.M. When I began exploring the world, moreover, the other side of the world, I witnessed another way of celebrating the New Year: the British way – Auld Lang Syne, liquor until the wee hours of the morning, socials and dances, and a bit of firecrackers.

Last Friday, I witnessed another one, my third, now: the Chinese way of celebrating the New Year! 🙂 I know how the Chinese celebrate their New Year but I never got the chance to immerse myself in the colourful and symbolic details. (The closest that I got was the one from last year in England, when my friend and I walked around the merry Chinatown in Picadilly during the Chinese New Year’s eve.)

What exactly did they have? Of course there was the tikoy-giving (tikoy = rice cake) preferably before the New Year and the wearing of the color red on the eve and on New Year’s day, as everyone is familiar with. There was the greetings in several Chinese dialects, which, on the other hand, not everyone knows about. 🙂

The New Year’s eve celebration started as early as 6 P.M. with a long parade. It was followed by a drum and bugle entertainment, and several dance performances until around 9 P.M. Little dragon dances were seen almost every hour but the major dragon and lion dances came at around 10 P.M. Fruits and flowers were offered during the early part of the evening, and Chinese candles (those with carved symbols) were also lit during the same hours. Evening prayers were said from 11 P.M. until midnight, followed by the lighting of incense and offering of the incense to the God of Heavens. Then the firecrackers came at 12 midnight, right after the ringing of the big bell. More prayers were said after midnight. At around 12:30 A.M., yellow papers with Chinese writings were given away, which are said to be lucky charms for the year 2007. The yellow paper was to be circled above the burning incense 76 times for prosperity and good fortune. There were also people circling their wallets and bags above the burning incense while saying their prayers. Then cups of misua or the egg wheat noodles were distributed to everyone. In the Chinese culture, misua symbolizes long life.

So how was it different from the New Year I’ve always celebrated? Not much. We have our mass, the Chinese have their prayers. We have our blessed candles lit on the altar, they also have their candles. We have big night shows (those star-studded shows), they have parades, dances, and other performances. We have firecrackers, they also have theirs. We have our pancit (stir-fried noodles), and they have their misua (egg wheat noodles). The celebration was almost similar except for the dragon and lion dances, which are usually the highlight of the Chinese New Year, the lighting and offering of the incense, and a few others. It’s just that the Chinese would prefer to celebrate the New Year in the most symbolic way, which, I enjoy! 🙂




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