Philadelphia’s Chinatown comes alive every Chinese New Year as dragons are paraded through the streets and firecrackers disturb the workday ennui. Philadelphia’s Chinatown is not just a popular tourist attraction. It is a bustling urban community in the center of Philadelphia’s downtown, where the Chinese residents live, work, socialize and worship. The community’s homes, businesses, churches and cultural centers, along with arty murals and exotic gardens, are testament to the Asian community’s dedication to their dual Asian and American values.
The Chinese New Year, sometimes called the Lunar New Year, begins with the first new moon of the New Year. The 2009 Chinese New Year begins on January 26th and ends 15 days later on February 9th on the full moon, celebrated as the Lantern Festival. The most important of the Chinese holidays, its traditions are based on the myth of the wild beast Nien (also the word for “year”), who was said to appear at the end of each year. According to myth, Nein would attack villages and eat villagers, and loud noises and bright lights were employed to frighten the beast away, thus the tradition of celebrating the Chinese New Year with parades and firecrackers. Red-paper couplets are hung on doors because Nien is said to fear the color red and lights stay on all night. The next morning the Chinese greet each other with “kung-hsi, or “congratulations,” at frightening the beast away for another year.
The Chinese New Year is a major family celebration for the Chinese, as family members who have moved away return home on Chinese New Year’s Eve for a family reunion and lavish meal. This is when “hong bao” (“lucky money”) in red envelopes is given to children, unmarried adults with no job and elders, by the single, working members of the family. Everyone stays up all night in the belief that it will ensure their parents long life. Religious ceremonies are often held, and concluded with firecrackers.
Join the Chinese community in Philadelphia for their Chinese New Year celebrations which include cultural events, family oriented exhibitions and workshops, parades, sumptuous banquets and a tour of Chinatown.
Philadelphia 2009 Chinese New Year begins at The China Gate
10th Street, between Market and Arch
Begin your Chinese New Year adventure by entering Chinatown through Philadelphia’s magnificent “Paifang,” the archway known as the China Gate. Constructed in 1984, it was designed by Sabrina Soong, and constructed by a team of Chinese engineers and artisans. The brightly painted gateway is designed in the Qing Dynasty style, and the tiles came from Tianjin, Philadelphia’s Chinese sister city. The large Chinese characters on the Gate translate into “Philadelphia Chinatown.”
Philadelphia 2009 Chinese New Year Lion Dance and Parade
Sunday, January 25, 2009, 11:00 p.m.
Sunday, February 1, 2009, 12:00 noon
Saturday, February 7, 2009, 12:00 noon
10th and Race Streets, Philadelphia, PA
The year 2009 is the Chinese Year of the Ox. Philadelphia kicks off its 2009 Chinese New Year celebration with the Lion Dance on the evening of Sunday, January 25, 2009 at 11:00 p.m. Encore performances of the Lion Dance will be presented at noon on the following two weekends through Saturday, February 7, 2009. Firecrackers are also set off every Sunday around noon. Presented by Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation, call 215-772-0739 for more information.
Philadelphia 2009 Chinese New Year World Culture Family Day
Saturday, January 24, 2009, 10:00 a.m.
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
3260 South Street, Philadelphia, PA
Tickets: $8; Call 215-898-4890 for more information
The World Culture Family Day offers music and dance performances, workshops on the healing and martial arts, storytelling and arts and crafts, and various children’s activities. The day ends with the Lion Dance Parade.
Philadelphia 2009 Chinese Lunar New Year Celebration
Independence Seaport Museum
211 S. Columbus Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA
Saturday, January 31, 2009, 12-3 pm
Call 215-413-8655 for more information
Free with Membership or Museum admission.
An afternoon of fun and educational activities, including a tea ceremony, Asian crafts and performances, tai chi demonstrations, and the traditional dragon dance.
Philadelphia 2009 Chinese New Year
Chef Joseph Poon’s “Wok ‘n’ Walk” Tour of Chinatown
Saturday and Sunday, December 13 and 14, 2008, 12 noon
Friday, December 26, 2008, 12 noon
Saturday and Sunday, January 3rd and January 11th, 12 noon
Friday and Saturday, February 6th and February 14th, 12 noon
10th and Arch Streets, between 8th and 12th Streets and Arch and Vine Streets, Philadelphia, PA
$45 per adult. Children under 5 free, ages 6-10, half price. Group rates available.
Call 215-928-9333 for more information and tickets
Chef Joseph Poon’s unique tour of Chinatown offers an insider’s background on the history, culture and food of Chinatown. A full lunch or dinner is included in the tour, as well as a Tai Chi demonstration, a lesson in Chinese vegetable carving, and a walking tour of Chinatown, including stops at a fortune cookie factory, an herbal medicine shop, and Chinese temple. Visits to a Chinese bakery, fish market and grocery store round out the tour.
Philadelphia 2009 Chinese New Year Banquet
Thursday, December 31, 2009 through Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Joe’s Peking Duck
108 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
Presented by Joseph Poon Chef Kitchen
Price: $36.80 per person
Call 215-922-0880 for more information and tickets.
Chef Joseph Poon presents an annual Chinese New Year’s Banquet, served family-style or individually for groups of six or more. Seatings at 5:30 pm and 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights from January 1st through March 31, 2009.
Philadelphia 2009 Chinese New Year Festival of Lanterns
Chinatown, 10th and Arch Streets, Philadelphia, PA
On February 9th, the 15th day of the New Year, the Festival of Lanterns marks the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations. Throughout the streets, myriad examples of lanterns are lit and paraded, including paper lanterns on wheels in the shapes of a rabbit or the animal of the year (Ox for 2009). The rabbit lantern represents the goddess “Chang E,” who jumped onto the moon, bringing a rabbit for company. The Chinese believe if your heart is pure, you can see the goddess Chang E and her rabbit on the moon on the Festival of Lanterns.
For more information on Chinese New Year Celebrations in Philadelphia, call 215-772-0739.