2nd Feb 2013 10:33am | By Editor
Ready for another round of New Year’s Eve celebrations? On February 10, you should be celebrating the start of the Year of the Snake, according to the Chinese lunar calendar.
What does that mean exactly? Well we’ll leave the year’s complicated fortune-telling to the zodiac experts but we do predict a lot of firecrackers, enormous banquets and plenty of red and gold decorations as the diaspora celebrate in Chinatowns across the world.
If you fancy joining in the celebrations, why not take yourself to one of the world’s earliest major Chinatowns?
The Chinese enclave of Binondo in the Philippines’ Manila was established in 1594 by Spanish Governor Luis Pérez Dasmariñas, who wanted to provide a home for the Chinese who had converted to Catholicism.
It developed into a glitzy finance hub, becoming known as the “Wall Street of the Philippines” in the early 19th century.
Now, however, the area is a little shabbier and definitely more about Chinese culture than commerce.
There are currently 1.5 million ethnic Chinese people living in the Philippines, and just this month the nation’s senate declared Chinese New Year an official holiday as a sign of goodwill between the two cultures – which means you can expect the celebrations this year to be massive.
Traditionally, there’s a fireworks display at midnight to mark the new year as well as fire breathing performances, a dragon dance procession and hundreds of red and gold lanterns lit along the side streets.
Ongpin Street, the main hub, is pedestrianised and lined with people selling snacks and lucky charms.
Of course, a big meal shared with family friends is an essential part of any Chinese New Year festivities, and you’ll find Ongpin Street is lined with restaurants serving dishes from numerous regions across China.
Lucky dishes to eat to honour this celebration are noodles for a long life, spring rolls which symbolise wealth and whole chickens, which represent family togetherness.
Stretching along Yaowarat Road from Odeon Circle, Bangkok’s Chinatown is marked by a ceremonial Chinese gate at the entrance.
Packed into this area is a dazzling amount of gold and pawn shops, alongside brightly painted Chinese-Buddhist temples.
On New Year’s Day, visit Leng Noei Yi Temple where you can pay your respects, or have a go at ‘siem-see’ (fortune sticks) to predict what’s in store for the year ahead.