Category Archives: Chinese New Year

CHINESE NEW YEAR 2019 – YEAR OF THE PIG

In the Chinese Lunar Calendar, 2019 celebrates the year of the pig.  This animal is not thought to be one of the smarter animals out of the zodiac signs as it enjoys sleeping, eating and becomes fat, making it known for being one of the lazier animals. But with this it is well behaved, can bring prosperity to others and is regarded as bringing wealth.

All the zodiac signs play an integral part in Chinese culture and have done for many years. They are normally used to determine certain things in the year such as marriage compatibility, best time to have children, lucky numbers and colours, careers and to tell the fortune for the year.

Originally this day was a ceremonial day where people would pray to the gods and ancestors for a good harvesting and planting season and good luck for the forthcoming year. Firecrackers are also set off in abundance as this is meant to scare away monster and bad spirits, along with this the colour red is also used in decorations, strings of red dry chillies, red lanterns and red money wallets are given out to bring prosperity in the new year. You will see the locals dress in red clothes throughout the Spring, as this is another sign of bringing good luck not only to them but to their family. When the new year celebrations are finished, there is also a large lantern festival held in China this is known to the locals as Valentines Day and is a time to be spent with family so a little different to how we celebrate our Valentines day in the UK.

Chinese New Year is not only celebrated in China, this is not surprising with one out of every five people in the World being of Chinese descent. Some of the biggest celebrations outside of China are known to take place in London, Sydney and San Francisco.

These 3 cities all fight and claim to put on the biggest and best parties, parades and celebrations for the spring festivals outside of Asia. Let’s look at how each of the cities celebrates this occasion.

London – This year it is held on the 10th February with the main celebrations take place in London’s China town, the west end and Trafalgar square. With parades, stage performances, and all-day entertainment there is something for everyone to enjoy. Make sure that you keep an eye out for the lion and dragon dancers as these are meant to bring you good luck, and to top the day off our favourite as always there will be a finale of performances followed by a spectacular firework display to make sure that the end of day does go out with a bang.

Sydney – Along with the celebration is a vibrant arts festival taking place on the 16th of February. There will be cultural events, exhibitions, markets, and entertainment aplenty. On the opening night from 5:30pm Sydney harbour will be glowing red as the firework display kicks off celebrations. Giant lanterns each representing the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac will also illuminate the sky around the circular quay. Along with this there will be dragon boat races in Darling Harbour and in China town lion dances, parades, zodiac roulette and performances.

San Francisco – Although there is not an official firework display there will be some serious noise and plenty of firecrackers in this celebration taking some earplugs is advised. The main event is the grand parade that is held on the 23rd February where more than half a million people gather to watch the parade boasting over 100 parade entries. People will be marching with flags, lanterns, and drums along with floats preceded by dancing lions and dragons.  The main the spectacle of the parade is a 28-foot golden dragon dancing through the streets. The parade is also televised so you can watch from home if you can’t make it or if you want to stay away from the crowds. Along with the parade, there will be lots of events held both through February and March all part of this fantastic celebration.

If you know of any Chinatown in any place nearby yourself then why not look for yourself and experience or take part in one of the many celebrations that are happening all around the world.

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CHINESE NEW YEAR 2018 – THE YEAR OF THE DOG – LONDON CELEBRATIONS

WHAT: CHINESE NEW YEAR CELEBRATIONS LONDON
WHERE: CENTRAL LONDON – CHINATOWN
WHEN: FRIDAY 16TH – SUNDAY 18TH FEBRUARY 2018
COST: FREE ENTERTAINMENT

2018 marks the Chinese New Year of the Brown Earth Dog is said to be a good year for finances but a pretty poor outlook for health and well being unless you keep a close eye on it.

Here in the UK, the Chinese Community is one of the oldest immigrant communities in the world since settling here in the late 18th century.

The original Chinatown was in London’s Limehouse district and the population was mainly men who were merchant seaman who had arrived here on ships from Canton and South China. The area also sadly became synonymous with opium dens and in Victorian England, the writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle even had his main character, Sherlock Holmes, depicted as an opium addict and a frequent visitor to the dens.

Whilst the community remained in the area from around 1880, the area was massively damaged by bombing raids during the blitz. The Chinatown today was established in the late 70’s and is now in the City of Westminster around Gerrard Street (just off the swanky Shaftesbury Avenue). Today the area is home to over 120,000 ethnic Chinese people which represents almost a third of the Chinese population of the UK. There are Chinatowns in Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Newcastle Upon Tyne where the remaining 240,000 reside.

2013 Chinese New Year

The official London Chinese New Year parade takes place on Sunday 18th February 2018, in and around Trafalgar Square. The event includes a parade, acrobatic demonstrations, the mandatory Lion dance as well as a huge number of workshops on calligraphy, kung fu, tai chi and Chinese mask making to name just a few.
Of course, over in China, the Spring Festival will last for around 7-days but also includes 3 national holiday days. The children will have 4 weeks away from school which is all well and good if you live in one of the warmer provinces like Nanning where it is around 75 – 80 F but what if you live in Harbin where the temperatures are -38 C.

The eve of the new year is particularly important as the Chinese meet up with all their family at the eldest person house (or close-by) and enjoy a reunion dinner together. This will usually feature meat in the form of chicken and pork and seafood (lobster and abalone – sea snail) and of course dumplings, sweet and sour dishes, hot and spicy and usually a whole fish (head, eyes, tail all intact) but the fish is never completed as to have some left over is surplus and means that the household will never go hungry and they will always have a surplus of money, food, good health and wisdom for the forthcoming year.

So, if you are at a loose end this weekend and fancy trying your hand at something a little different, get along to one of the cities detailed and see the fascinating lion dance and all its colour for yourself. Check local press for details.

CHWEN JEE-EH KWAI LE

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CHINESE NEW YEAR 2018 – YEAR OF THE BROWN EARTH DOG

The Chinese New Year does not quite coincide with that celebrated throughout the rest of the world as it works on a combination of the lunar and solar calendars along with additional factors like the elements and colours.

The brown earth dog year begins on Friday 16th February and continues for 23 days during which the whole of China ceases major productivity almost two weeks before the beginning of the observance and it is a National Holiday across China and in a great number of other countries who also celebrate the lunar spring festival. Businesses MUST pay all their bills and staff up before the start of the holiday and many will work additional shifts on the run up to the spring festival to enable them to take the time off to be with family and friends.

On the eve of the festival like our own new year celebrations they clean house to clear out the dirt which holds onto the bad luck from the previous year. Even sweeping brushes, vacuum cleaners and dust pans are stored away so as not to impact on the newly arrived luck. Another strange one (imho) is that hair cutting over the New Year period is frowned upon as it is considered to bring bad luck on the household.

The greatest theme of the Spring Festival is celebration of the family and the biggest migration of people takes place when the ones who have been working away return home with their hard-earned money in time for the reunion dinner. A staggering 1 billion people are known to celebrate the Chinese New Year and in 2014, railways reported 270 million passengers using the rail network on the days leading up to the holiday.

The Chinese even have unlucky days like 3rd or 17th but one of the unluckiest of all is the double 10 like the 10th October (10/10) but they also have lucky numbers and the best of all is the number 9.

Other well known symbols are:

Jade – protection, health and strength

Eggs – tranquillity, fertility and good luck

A beaded man – longevity or success

A lady bearing fruit – prosperity

Lanterns – promotion

Fish – surplus, plentiful

The Chinese year of the Dog is said to be a good year for saving or accumulating wealth.

They lavishly decorate homes with red lanterns and children receive prettily decorated red envelopes containing lucky money and the real must have is FIREWORKS. The theme common to most homes across China appears to be red. With some repainting the exterior of their houses with an additional coat of red paint or hanging of scrolls, fish shaped paper decorations and such with red lanterns hung outside and inside the homes alongside Chinese knots. There are also communal events like puppet shows and of course the traditional lion and dragon dancing in their highly decorated costumes.

Fireworks and firecrackers have been used to ward off evil spirits but due to the dangerous levels of air pollution over 130 cities have been banned from using them altogether whereas over 500 cities across China have some restrictions in place so some can still continue to enjoy them within these guidelines.

The origins of burning fireworks started back at the time of the Han Dynasty between 206BC and 220CE when the people burned sticks of bamboo which popped loudly thus frightening off the evil spirits which over the years were developed into bunches which became firecrackers.

As midnight approaches on the eve of the New Year, several hundred tons of pyro is being lit across the length and breadth of the country ranging from a couple of chains of firecrackers to a full on pyrotechnic display. The legend is that a monster called Nian came to eat villages and destroy their homes and livestock but the burning bamboo frightened him off and the legend continues to this day.

Here in the UK several thousand Chinese descend on London to celebrate the New Year annually and we get a small taste of the joy and happiness shared across the globe.

Gong Xi Fa Cai

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