Article by: Joseph Hadaway
Chinese New Year is a holiday that takes place at the turn of the Chinese lunar calendar every year. One of the oldest celebrations of mankind, it is still commemorated in several countries with large Chinese populations, including the Philippines, Malaysia, and of course, China. Additionally, Chinatowns all over the world celebrate the holiday.
This year, Chinese New Year fell on February 19th and ISM students were given two days off from their busy classes so they could celebrate the new year. This gave some Chinese members of the community a chance to return home to celebrate with their families. However, the day of Chinese New Year itself is only one of the many days celebrated during the Chinese Spring Festival. The Spring Festival falls between the 23rd day of the twelfth month and the 15th day of the first month of the lunar calendar, making the festival last a total of about 23 days. Each of these days has its own cultural significance, customs and celebrations.
Some traditions include cleaning one’s home to “sweep away bad luck” and appeasing the kitchen god by offering him “sacrifices” in the form of fruit, candy or other treats. Red banners with characters representing “good fortune”, “happiness” and “wealth” are also put up, and many families and friends gather together for a big reunion. Here in the Philippines, people celebrate by dressing up in Chinese clothing, giving money in red envelopes called hong bao’s, setting off firecrackers, and watching the traditional dragon dance. People also honor the occasion by eating Chinese food, which is not a problem due to the country’s many Chinese restaurants. Furthermore, those who cannot travel to China to witness some of the fantastic parades can watch them online or on certain television stations.
Chinese New Year is not only unique because of its celebrations, but also because each year is associated with one of twelve zodiac animals. This year marks the beginning of the year of the Goat. It is believed that people born in the year of the Goat are polite, clever, kind-hearted, and hardworking. Some famous Goats include Michael Jordan, George Clooney, and ISM’s own Berk Genel.
All in all, Chinese New Year is a widely-celebrated holiday with a variety of traditions. The red lanterns and fireworks that lit up the country prove that the celebration has taken the Philippines by storm and will continue to for years to come. 新年快乐 (Happy New Year)!