XXVI – Celebrating Chinese New Year in Manila’s Chinatown…

After a long night bus ride from Banaue to Manila, I took a quick nap and then headed towards Chinatown with Sylvie and Raymond (the french couple I met in Banaue). We were just in time for the beginning of the Chinese New Year 2012’s festivities, the year of dragon!

It started in January 22 (Chinese New Year’s Eve) and people came massively in the streets to witness this special celebration.

I have to admit that it’s pretty impressive and LOUD! This celebration involves lighting so many fireworks that you can’t see anything through the smoke. And it’s so loud that you feel you’re deaf after standing there just a couple of minutes!

But the most exciting and impressive part are the dragon dancing, lion dancing and other traditional performances.

The traditional lion dance is supposed to bring good luck. There were two dancers: one acts as the head and the other as the body. They dance in rhythm with drums, cymbals and loud gongs.

On the head of the lion, there is a small mirror because Chinese believe that evil, dark spirits will be frightened away by their own reflections!! The lions’ head and body just circle in the streets and go inside all shops/houses to pay a visit.

There are also processions in the streets, led by a dragon. In China, the dragon is a strong symbol of good fortune and power. So, we could see red, gold, and green dragons running like madness in the streets. And, I was told that these dragons were making a lot of money, collecting it from every shops they enter into!! If anyone is interested in a change of career, being a dragon is lucrative!! LOL.

As you walk in the neighbourhood, you can see all windows & doors decorated with red paper-cuts and couplets. And, I was told by a Chinese woman it was also the time of the year where families had to clean their house from bottom to top in order to drive away ill-fortune and bring good luck in the coming year. But I didn’t witness that last part. I haven’t seen a single bucket of dirty water. So, I can’t assure you if it’s a legend or the truth…

Dragon getting out of a store.

Anyway, it was my first Chinese New Year’s celebration, and I couldn’t believe my eyes (and ears). And even though I was born in the year of the water dog (Chinese horoscope, I still believe that this year of the dragon will be a great year for me!

PS: Just for the curious people born in 1982, here is our Chinese horoscope: (Jan 25, 1982 to Feb 12, 1983):

DOG people are loyal and honest and obedient, guardians of the house at night. They can be counted on to keep secrets and for always doing the right thing. They can be emotionally distant and do not mix well in social gatherings where they are often seen as wall flowers. They do better with one-on-one relationships and find happiness in the happiness they bring to others, such as finding the most perfect gifts for their friends. While it is true that they have sharp tongues and are a bit stubborn and eccentric, in a work situation they tend to work very well with other people. What is more, they always seem to have money and make excellent leaders. Because of their high morale stance, they are inspiring beyond measure.

Sizzling Rice Soup and Chinese Cabbage are among the keys to good health!! (Me saying: urgh…or not?!?)

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