One to two weeks before the Chinese New Year, the “Chinatowns” in countries outside of China attract hordes to the colorful activities staged to celebrate the festive season. In the Philippines, festivities are held in the district of Binondo in Manila, as well as in hotels and big malls.
But the traditional Chinese New Year celebrations are more than just fireworks and dragon dances. They are also about honoring the elders and assessing what the New Year could bring based on feng shui.
The Chinese New Year celebrations usually last for two weeks.
Jojie Ty says Chinese tradition aims to strengthen family ties. The occasion also gives the Chinese a chance to travel to places where they have relatives.
“It is not really a tradition to travel to another country just to celebrate the Chinese New
Year, but I just like going back to the Philippines because I feel this country is my second home [and]I got my family, relatives and friends that I love to be with,” she adds.
For the Chinese, honoring their grandparents is a tradition that comes with the New Year festivities. It is during the banquets held during the first 10 days of the Chinese New Year where the elders are honored.
In turn, the elders show affection to the younger generation by giving them ampaw or red envelopes that contain money, says Ben Borras, a feng shui consultant based in Binondo.
There are several activities that the Chinese avoid doing during the New Year celebrations.
Serving porridge is discouraged, as well as washing of clothes or hair, needle works, sweeping of the floor, breaking of dishes, holding of scissors or knives, lending or borrowing money, killing animals and wearing black or white clothes.
While the Chinese believe in feng shui, Borras said this does not mean that a year that is supposed to be not good, based on one’s Chinese zodiac sign, will automatically mean a shortage of fortune throughout the year.
During the first five days of the Chinese New Year, it is a tradition among the Chinese to visit Oriental temples to honor deities in the belief that they will assist them in their fortunes in the coming year.
Borras says honoring or paying respects to the deities or tai sui is part of the practice of feng shui, but it is only part of the “trinity of luck” in determining a person’s fortunes for the year.
Every year the Chinese zodiac sign, “heaven luck” based on feng shui, can project a person’s fortune. But Borras says there is also such a thing as “earth luck” and “man luck” in the “trinity of luck.”
Every year, the 12 Chinese zodiac signs are grouped into “good,” “fair” and “poor.” For those whose sign falls under good, a five-day visit to an Oriental temple during the first five days of the Chinese New Year celebrations can assure “heaven luck.” For those under the fair sign, a visit to the temple once a month is fine, and for those under poor, a twice-a-month visit is recommended.
“Those who visit every once or twice a month pay respects to the deity by offering food or anything [of value], burn large or dragon incense and burn offering paper,” Borras says.
To the Chinese, hard work is also part of the “trinity of luck” that can determine a person’s fortune in the coming year.