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Chinesee New Year
Small Business and Self-Employed

Chinese New Year: When Is It and How to Celebrate

Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival, marks the beginning of the lunar year. Since the lunar calendar uses the moon cycles as its base, the specific date changes each year.

The festival is celebrated mainly throughout East Asia and anywhere within the Chinese diaspora since many of the foundational origins of the festival stem from Chinese traditions. 

In the Philippines, the festival merges with various Filipino influences as the whole nation comes to sweep out the old year and bring in the new.

When Is Chinese New Year?

The festival marks the first new full moon after the winter solstice. This happens every year somewhere between 21st January and 20th February.

In 2022, Chinese New Year’s Day was on 1st February. In 2023, the day will land on 22nd January.

Chinese New year in the Philippines

Because of the country's sizable Chinese population, the Chinese New Year was declared an official holiday in the Philippines in 2011. 

Prior to the arrival of the Spanish, the Filipinos had been trading with the Chinese for a long time. Given the shared history between China and the Philippines, it is not surprising that the popular Lunar New Year holiday has found a home among Filipinos. The rituals and practices of the Filipino Lunar New Year blend traditional Chinese culture with a modern Filipino twist.

The Chinese New Year is known as a “katangi-tanging selebrasyon” in the Filipino language, or "one-of-a-kind celebration". This festive holiday and its celebrations can run for as long as 15 days in the country, and it is by far the most important holiday of the year for Chinese Filipinos.

Binondo, in particular, is a bustling commercial district in Manila where many festivities take place due to the area's Chinese heritage. It is the world's oldest Chinatown, having been created in 1594 as a permanent community for Chinese immigrants under Spanish occupation.

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How to Celebrate Chinese New Year in the Philippines

Like many other countries in Asia, New Year festivities center around food, family, and preparation for the year to come.

Lion and Dragon Dances

The lion and dragon dances are a fixture of the Philippines' Lunar New Year celebrations. The dragon is thought to represent good luck, strength, knowledge, and health in Chinese culture. The Chinese dragon is distinct from the other animals in the Chinese zodiac because it is the sole mythical creature.

Revelers perform the dragon and lion dances, accompanied by raucous drumbeats and cymbals, at significant occasions and events to bring good fortune to the town. The dragon is normally commanded by eight to ten dancers throughout the parade. Meanwhile, the lion represents protection and good fortune. It is frequently carried by two dancers, with one in charge of the head who makes the ears wriggle and the eyes blink.

Red Envelopes

During Chinese New Year, one of the things that people, especially children, look forward to is the red envelope. Every Lunar New Year, elderly family members in the Philippines present red envelopes, or ampaos, containing money to children. Giving away red envelopes is thought to bring both the receiver and the giver good fortune.

In Chinese tradition, red is considered the most auspicious color. It is thought to bring good fortune and prosperity. As a result, people dress or surround themselves in red at the new year - a time that determines the fortune for the year ahead. This Filipino-Chinese new year tradition extends to those without Chinese heritage, too.

Gathering for a Feast

The most important Chinese New Year custom is to bring the entire family together for a great feast. Every member of the family, no matter how far away, should attend the Chinese New Year holiday meal, meaning some people travel very far to be together. 

An important element of New Year is tikoy - the most popular dessert at this time of year. It is a glutinous rice ball combined with fat, water, and sugar. Serving and eating tikoy is believed to be a sign of a "higher year" to come.

Alongside this specifically Filipino dessert, families also gather to eat longevity noodles (long noodles to represent long life.) They’ll also eat dumplings and fish because their Chinese names have auspicious meanings.

Other Traditions and Superstitions

As with many Chinese-influenced cultures across Asia and the rest of the world, there is a strong emphasis on superstition at this time of year. It’s imperative to transition into a new year well.

To ensure they do this, Filipinos often follow some of these many customs at New year:

  • Decorating the house in red to ward off malicious spirits.
  • Ensure there are healthy, blooming flowers in the house as a symbol of life and vitality.
  • Settle debts to start the year with a clean slate.
  • Sweep and clean the house thoroughly the day before New Year.
  • Get a haircut before New year, but don’t wash hair or clothes on the first day as this ‘washes away’ fortune.

Organizing Finances With QuickBooks

Chinese New Year in the Philippines and across Asia is a time to settle debts, start afresh, and progress into a new year with confidence and peace of mind.

This is why it’s considered an especially significant time for business owners who want to get their books in order. This organization lets them head into the new year feeling in control and ready for what’s to come. 

With QuickBooks accounting software for small businesses, business owners can rely on automation to help organize their finances:

With all this automation in one place, and in a simple easy-to-use interface, QuickBooks empowers business owners to get a grip on their finances and make better-informed decisions. 

For those looking to head into a new year with a better understanding of their finances, give QuickBooks a try with a 30-day free trial.

Wherever you are in the world, we wish you a Happy New Year!

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