Chinese New Year as a National Holiday: Towards Cultural Understanding In the Philippines?

2015/ ASJ.UP.EDU.PH

by Ivy Ganadillo

The Lunar New Year, popularly known as the Chinese New Year (CNY) and Spring Festival, is the most important festivity of the Chinese (BBC 2014). It is celebrated by over a billion people (Dice 2009), including those of Chinese descent, regardless of their citizenship and residence. Elizabeth Dice (2009) notes Chinese New Year festivities in New York, San Francisco, Vancouver, Lima, Paris, Melbourne, Butte (Montana), as well as the official celebrations in Brunei, China, Fiji, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, Mauritius, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand.

The Philippines, whose first contact with China dates back to the Sung period (960 C.E.–1279 C.E.) [Wickberg 1965] and which boasts of the oldest Chinatown in the world (Buaron 2010), celebrated Chinese New Year as a special non-working holiday only last 2012 (and then in 2014). This was done through Presidential Proclamations 295 and 655 (Official Gazette n.d.), respectively. Several bills to declare Chinese New Year as a national holiday had already been proposed but were never enacted into law. At any rate, both presidential proclamations allowed Chinese-Filipinos (also known as Chinoys, Tsinoys) and ordinary Filipinos to celebrate Chinese New Year. In the past, only the former did so, and not as a holiday. According to the text of the proclamations, the declaration of Chinese New Year as a national holiday seeks to promote solidarity with Chinese-Filipinos, who have been an inalienable part of Philippine society for a long time. Read more…

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