How I Spent Chinese New Year In The Freezing Cold Of New York City

This is a popular scene in the streets of Ongpin as the Chinese population in Manila prepares for the Chinese New Year. The streets are adorned with red ribbons and Chinese lanterns with dragon dancers bringing good luck to businesses. Charms with red ribbons are available for people who want to attract good luck for the coming year.

However, it is totally different when we celebrated Chinese Near Year in the frigid cold of New York City. In spite of the freezing temperature, there was a huge crowd. The Brooklyn United Drumline did a very energetic performance that started off the celebrations. Next was the traditional Chinese ribbon dance which was significantly the same to what is performed in the streets of Binondo during the Chinese New Year performances. Long strips of red silk ribbons were attached to short sticks that the dancers waved in the air.

Next was the dragon dance which was not as elaborate as dragon dances I have been used to. In Chinese communities is Manila, the dragons were exotic, colorful and large. They are encouraged by Chinese businessmen in the hope of bringing good luck to the business. The dragon dancers in New York did an impressive dance but it was mostly acrobatic.

No Chinese New Year is complete without an abundance of food. We lined up to have a taste of the sumptuous food that was prepared by the Chinese community. The food was authentic Chinese which reminds me of the food back home. A Chinese delicacy called “tikoy” was served and everyone was encouraged to bring home a box or two for the family.

The color red has always been associated with the Chinese because of our belief that it brings good luck. Most of us who joined the ceremonies were in red including guests who decided to join the revelry. During the celebrations, some member of the community gave away red envelopes filled with money to the children who were only too eager to receive the gift.

Like every Chinese festival, the air soon reverberated with the sound of firecrackers lighted from a safe distance. It was a display that is very rarely seen in the streets of New York.