The Chinese New Year usually falls sometime between the end of January and the middle of February. The Chinese calendar is lunisolar, so the exact date is determined by the position of the moon and the sun. The Year of the Yin Metal Rabbit starts on 3 February and will run till 22 January.
The Chinese New Year was traditionally a family celebration, involving prayer, feasting on pork, meeting relatives and giving money to children in the family. In the recent past, it’s become an occasion for spectacles and parades in places where there’s a large ethnic Chinese population: mainland China, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Penang in Malaysia, Hong Kong, and also Chinatowns in San Francisco and New York City, US.
Festive spirit: New Year events in Hong Kong include elaborate dances.
Here’s a list of Chinese New Year parties you can join:
New York City
Firecracker and cultural ceremony: 3 February, at Roosevelt Park.
New York City lifted its ban on firecrackers only four years ago, and the New Year celebrations have been making up for the missed years since then. More than 300,000 crackers are burst in a single exhibition.
Festive Street Bazaar: till 2 February.
Spread over Singapore’s Chinatown, the street bazaar has stalls selling New Year delicacies and other gifts and paraphernalia. A dance performance will run till 2 February at Kreta Ayer Square. The Chingay Parade is on 11-12 February at the F1 Pit Stadium. Singapore has moved its street parade from the street to a stadium. But with local and international acrobatic and dance acts, it’s still worth a visit. The lantern festival is on 12 February at Eu Tong Sen Street. Hang around for dances, floats and street food.
Chinese New Year Parade: 3 February, at Tsim Sha Tsui
One of the most fascinating attractions in the world according to the Lonely Planet Bluelist, this features traditional and modern dance and acrobatic performances by more than 20 groups from Hong Kong and the rest of the world. The New Year race is on 5 February at the Happy Valley Racecourse. Local punters make it a point to place bets on the first race of the year for luck in the rest of the year. This is preceded by a fireworks display on 4 February at Victoria Harbour. The Hong Kong New Year fireworks display is one of the most spectacular in the world and should be seen up close.
New Year flavours
The myth behind Chinese New Year tells of a monster who was frightened by a child wearing red clothes, so almost everything turns red during the New Year: clothes, lanterns and gift envelopes. Speaking of which…
Bosses give their employees and adults give their young relatives money in red envelopes on the first day of the New Year. The envelopes are called Hong Bao in Mandarin and Lai Sze in Cantonese. If you’re going to join in the gifting, remember that the number 8 is lucky: give 8, 80 or 800 of the local currency.
In Mandarin, the words for fish and prosperity are both pronounced yu. Deciding this was too good a pun to let go of, the Chinese made a picture of koi (carp) forming a yin-yang symbol, a standard New Year decoration.
The last day of New Year festivities is China’s own festival of lights. Manufacturers have been competing to produce more and more intricate lanterns in the shape of animals, or with riddles painted on them.
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