With February finally here, most of us are already looking forward to Valentines’ day: Should I stick to wearing red for my date? Do I need to wear any particular jewelry to be lucky in love? It actually does not matter, says China Studies scholar Ivy Ganadillo from the University of the Philippines Center for Asian Studies. Even if it's Chinese New Year a few days before Valentines’, you don't really need to get caught up in all those pamahiins, because at the end of the day, it's still you, and not some lucky charm, who determines your fate in love.
“[In this day and age, zodiac signs are considered] hype, [and] it [actually just makes Chinese New Year] commercialized,” Ganadillo said. “Although it is part of culture, Chinese-Filipinos want to be seen more than just this.”
We debunk a few more myths and misconceptions about the Chinese and Chinese New Year:
All Chinese practice Feng Shui. While it is widely believed that the Chinese practice Feng Shui, and some Filipinos believe in it as well, the reality is that Feng Shui is highly discouraged in Mainland China. Ganadillo explains that since the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese government has discouraged the practice of Feng Shui because it is considered to be superstitious.
According to her, it is the overseas Chinese, those who left China before the Cultural Revolution, who still practice Feng Shui. And to where did these overseas Chinese migrate to? The Philippines, hence our country's semi-obsession with the philosophical system.
The Philippines has been celebrating Chinese New Year since time immemorial. While it has been perceived that the Philippines has long been celebrating Chinese New Year, the truth is that it only became a nationwide holiday in 2012, through a presidential proclamation. Prior to that, Chinese New Year is observed only in the country’s Chinatown districts. Considering that the Philippines boasts one of the oldest Chinatown districts a.ka. Binondo, this comes to a surprise for a country with a long history with the Chinese. “Hindi natin na-appreciate yun ethnicities natin sa Pilipinas before,” Ganadillo explains on why it took a while before the government recognized Chinese New Year as a nationwide holiday.
All Chinese eat dog meat. While the Yulin Festival exposed the Chinese tradition of killing dogs, Ganadillo says that it's hard to generalize that all of them eat dogs. With China being a large country, a significant number of Chinese are in fact dog lovers. Breeds like the Shih Tzu, the Chow Chow, and the Sharpei would cease to exist if all the Chinese are into eating dogs.
“There are studies that prove that [the Chinese] protect animals and they are dog lovers,” Ganadillo notes. And the best testament to this? The second day of Chinese New Year, by tradition, is dedicated to man's best friend!
Chinese culture is mainly about siopao and siomai. In a research study Ganadillo made on the proclamation of Chinese New Year as a holiday, she noted that some Filipinos have a limited understanding of Chinese culture, stereotyping them with siopao, siomai, and the practice of Feng Shui. The declaration of CNY as a holiday is testament to the Chinese's contributions to our society, from helping Filipinos during the Japanese war, to creating jobs for Filipinos in their business empires. “The declaration plays a role in countering the negative stereotypes of the Chinese in the Philippines,” Ganadillo said in her research paper “Chinese New Year as a National Holiday: Towards Cultural Understanding In the Philippines?”
So the next time you might think that Chinese New Year is just another holiday, think of your Chinese-Filipino friends, and the help their ancestors have extended to our nation.
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