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CHINESE NEW YEAR 2020 – YEAR OF THE METAL RAT

WHAT: CHINESE NEW YEAR 2020 – YEAR OF THE METAL RAT
WHEN: 25TH JANUARY – 8TH FEBRUARY 2020
WHERE: ACROSS CHINA AND ASIA

The Chinese New Year or Spring Festival is fast approaching and the preparations are already underway. In many ways, this holiday is one of the few chances for Chinese families to gather together all generations for a catch-up. Much like the celebrations for our Christmas and New Year events, the Chinese have specially prepared meals, give specific gifts and eat to excess so you can readily see where the comparisons come from.

CNY - year of the rat

This Public Holiday has been taking place since as far back as 2300 BC and this year, the representative of the Chinese New Year is the Metal Rat. This little fella is said to be able to turn misfortune around with their cunning and wise approach. People born under this sign are said to be charming if a little ruthless, hardworking and thrifty so they have the ability to save a lot of money quickly. Children born this year are alert and lead to money by instinct and have the ability to deal with conflict with sophistication but can, on the other hand, be picky and stubborn but this is definitely a good year to be born according to the Chinese.

Also known as the Lunar New Year, unlike the Western World, China adheres to the ancient Lunar Calendar which is firstly, the reason the date changes every year and secondly, continues to uphold the values of the ancestors.

There are certain ‘must have’s’ for CNY celebrations, including:

  • RED HANGING LANTERNS
  • RED MONEY ENVELOPES
  • CITRUS TREES – A SIGN OF WEALTH AND ABUNDANCE
  • RED BANNERS WITH ‘FU’ CHARACTERS UPSIDE DOWN TO ENCOURAGE GOOD LUCK ARE KEPT WITHIN THE HOUSEHOLD

As all family members are required to return home to China for the New Year celebrations, those who genuinely cannot make it back (and it had better be good!) will have their place at the table left empty, set with cutlery, to show that they are missing the event and to ensure that the luck for the family still spreads to those who can’t attend.

Wishing my friends a Happy Chinese New Year 2020

All dishes created for the event are to give and receive blessings for the coming year. Names and symbols are said to encourage health, happiness, and prosperity and although the food included can vary dramatically from region to region, the national staples are always spring rolls and dumplings. They do vary from each area as some tend towards spicier foods and the coastal areas, stick to fish and seafood types which applies to both dumpling and spring roll fillings.

Some of the foods have specific significance as relates to the Spring Festival:

DUMPLINGS – WEALTH

SPRING ROLLS – WEALTH AND A FRESH START

WONTONS – WEALTH AND TREASURE

FISH – FORTUNE AND A SURPLUS OF FOOD AND HEALTH

NOODLES – LONGEVITY AND LONG LIFE

GLUTINOUS RICE CAKE – PROMOTION AND A RISE IN SALARY

GLUTINOUS RICE BALLS – FAMILY REUNION

It’s not all about the food though as some activies form part of the tradition:

CLEAN HOUSE – Sweeping the house and throwing out something old means to clear out bad luck and welcome in the New Year and good tidings.

SHOPPING – This has to be one of the biggest spending periods across China and begins from around 10-days before the start of festivities. The main purchases are new clothes, red decorations for the home and outside either side of the door, meat, snacks for the children and other bits and bobs like sunflower seeds, sweets, and candies, and nuts.

FIRECRACKERS – Setting off firecrackers is an essential part of the celebrations and is used to welcome in the New Year and scare away evil spirits. However, due to the environmental impact, firecrackers have been banned in major cities.

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg as globally, 1.35 BILLION Chinese will celebrate Spring Festival so there had to be some westernisation going on. Big companies like Lego, Nike, and others have all joined in the fun with Lego creating a new ‘Year of the Rat’ collection.

LEGO Offers Year of the Rat Chinese New Year Themed Set GWP

Furthermore, Nike has a new Air Jordan called ‘Chinese New Year’ which does feel like a bit of a ‘back at ya’ to Adidas which released it’s Ultraboost Japan’ range featuring fireworks earlier this year.

So, it just remains for us to wish all our friends over in China a very Happy New Year – Gong Hei Fat Choi.

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KANDERSTEG INTERNATIONAL SCOUT CENTRE – FIREWORKS

KANDERSTEG INTERNATIONAL SCOUT CENTRE – FIREWORKS

Every year here at Epic Fireworks, we supply literally hundreds of Scout Groups with their consumer display to raise much-needed money for the running of this incredible organisation. The Scout movement has essentially been moulding the youth of the World for almost a century now ensuring that they stay healthy, strong and are prepared to be adults with something to give to the World.

The Scout movement was started in the UK by Lord Baden-Powell in 1907 when having left the Army, he decided that all men and boys needed to be more aware of woodcraft skills which he learned during his campaign in Zimbabwe. He wanted to encourage the physical, psychological and emotional development of the young to encourage ‘lifeskills’ which prove useful for the remainder of their lives.

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He also brought together the youth of the nation as one, without creed, class or sexuality. His first-ever camp was held on Brownsea Island, positioned just off the coast of Poole in Dorset. So successful was it that the modern movement has upwards of 38 million worldwide and continues to follow the same principles:

  • BASIC OUTDOOR SKILLS
  • FIRST AID
  • CITIZENSHIP SKILLS
  • LEADERSHIP SKILLS/GROUP WORKING

Once the Scout group started to show promise, there were calls from across the world who shared Baden Powell’s vision of a youth, who could adopt the guiding principles of the scout ethos of helping others, doing their duty to God and the Queen thus ensuring that all youth, regardless of their colour, creed, etc.

They joined in droves in ages from 8 to 18 creating a worldwide scouting association which was to stand the test of time. At this point, massive groups sprang up across Europe and the West, especially in Canada and the USA where like-minded individuals also wanted to learn some of the woodcraft and survival training which Baden-Powell had received from Ernest Thompson Seton, a wildlife specialist and woodcraft enthusiast who wanted to pass on survival skills and even cosmology, gleaned from his time in the woods close to his home in Canada as a young man. These skills formed an important part of the Scouting for Boys handbook which went on to be the foundation of the Scouting movement.

The first-ever International Jamboree was held on 30th July 1920, just after the end of WW1, in the Olympic Arena in London, where 8000 scouts from 34 countries attended. Today, the scout organisation holds events across the globe, including Switzerland’s Kandersteg International Scouting Centre which plays host annually to a HUGE jamboree, bringing together Scout Groups from around the world in a truly stunning setting.

The Kandersteg Centre only exists because of the creation of the Lotschberg Tunnel. This is a passage which travels THROUGH the Swiss Alps taking what was a journey time of 2 ½ hours to just 35 minutes.

During the construction of the tunnel, in order to ensure the education and safety of the worker’s children, a Chalet was built close to the banks of the River Kander. After completing the tunnel, the Chalet was left empty and abandoned. Some 9 years on, the Chief Scout of Switzerland, Walter con Bonstetten came across the empty property and suggested it be re-purposed as a permanent structure and an international home for Scouts. Lord Baden Powell visited and agreed that it would be a truly magical outdoor retreat with plenty to do and see around and about, set at the foot of the mountain. Use was on and off for some years thanks to WW2 (when it was used for training and reconnaissance) but since the post-war years, it has been in continual use as an International Scout Centre.

Today, hundreds of thrill-seeking Scouts spend the week in this stunning location and once a year, on Switzerland’s National Day, a firework spectacular is held before the gathered jamboree. Last year, a group from Kent spent the week there making connections around the globe with like-minded people in a healthy and altogether beautiful area.

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The Fireworks are provided by the incredible team from SuGYP who have an awards shelf groaning under the weight of the incredible number of trophies this team has picked up from Hannover (Germany), Szczecin (Poland) and they even competed against the UK’s Pyro 2000 in Macao in 2016.

So, beautiful fireworks, an incredible mountain setting and close by, the picturesque town of Schaffhausen which has illuminated the nearby 25m high Rhine waterfall in celebration of the country’s National Day on 1st August.

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LONDON WELCOMES IN 2020 WITH A BANG

Three barges, the iconic Big Ben and the incredible London Eye were all packed with pyrotechnics as midnight struck on 31st December, welcoming in the new decade in traditional style.

On what was probably one of the clearest night skies since September (we all recall how dreadful the weather was over the Bonfire Night season and beyond) it was set to be an outstanding night of pyrotechnics across the UK. However, despite the clear night, there had been a little shower earlier and it was very windy which added to the smoke issues.

They used the same ‘London is Open’ as for the Olympic 2012 event to welcome in the forthcoming EURO 2020 which the UK will be hosting. They even had some single shots spelling out the same. The finale was absolutely gorgeous.

Whilst it was lovely, you should check out the event at the Champs Elysee:

The use of lasers, coloured lighting and pyrotechnics were gorgeous and given the bad press about pollution, particularly following the Aussie PM’s decision to go ahead with the display in spite of a huge number of calls to cancel it. They decided that it should proceed thanks to the amount of investment and planning which had already taken place.

Well done to all the professional teams around the world who helped to ring in the New Decade.

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE

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