Chinese New Year is popularly known as the Lunar New Year and Spring Festival. It is believed to bring prosperity and hope not only in China but also to Chinese communities around the world. This festival follows the lunisolar calendar.
MANILA, Philippines ꟷ Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations remain one of the most important annual events for people in China and of Chinese descent in the 21st Century. The Binondo District in the city of Manila in the Philippines is the oldest known “Chinatown” in the world. Residents there continue to host their annual Lunar New Year or Spring festival, drawing huge crowds.
While COVID restrictions no longer apply, health officials urged caution. Still, in 2022, the festival truly came back to life. The unique street experience of the Manila festival stretched from Plaza Santa Cruz all the way to Plaza San Lorenzo. Blocked off from traffic, the historical Jones Bridge became the venue for an impressive fireworks display. People flocked to Ongpin Street where tourists mixed with locals. Together, they experienced unique Chinese culture, businesses, food, and parades.
The crowd grew and grew as the countdown to the Chinese Lunar New Year began. Tourists excitedly witnessed fire-breathers, The Dragon and Lion dance, and other highly anticipated moments.
Luis Pérez Dasmariñas established the Binondo district, or Manila’s Chinatown, in 1594 just across the Pasig River near Intramuros. Spanish colonial rulers strategically located the world’s oldest Chinatown in its present location to keep watch over the Chinese immigrants.
Yet, even before the Spanish colonization of the area, the location served as the center of Chinese trade and industry. Many successful Filipino-Chinese people thrived in all types of industry from the Binondo district. Today, their influence expands outside the Binondo district to Quiapo, Santa Cruz, San Nicolas, the Tondo district, and the whole of Metro Manila.
Chinese New Year is popularly known as the Lunar New Year and Spring Festival. It is believed to bring prosperity and hope not only in China but also to Chinese communities around the world. This festival follows the lunisolar calendar. That is why it doesn’t have a fixed date on the Gregorian calendar. The sun and the phasing of the moon provide the date of the Chinese New Year that usually falls somewhere between the third week of January and the third week of February.
This 2023 the Chinese New Year fell on January 22 along with the New Moon phase. The Spring Festival continues for 15 days until the full moon occurs. Binondo, the oldest Chinese community in world, continues to bring Filipinos and tourists to experience the Chinese culture that has shaped and contributed to the world.
All photos courtesy of George Buid.
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