Goong Hei Faat Choy! Happy New Year!
Chinese across the world will celebrate the beginning of the new Year of the Monkey on Monday 8th February.
A major holiday in many Asian cultures, Chinese New Year is often referred to as the Spring Festival. It is a time for family, reunion, good food, and steeped in many traditions and themes of good luck, fortune, happiness, wealth and longevity.
This year Chinese New Year falls on the long Waitangi weekend, with the start of the celebrations falling on the Monday Public Holiday. It’s estimated that this year New Zealand will see an increase of 30 per cent more visitors from China over the New Year period.
Here in Christchurch and Canterbury, there are a number of events being held over the Spring Festival, the most popular of these being the Chinese Lantern Festival on the weekend of Saturday February 27 and Sunday 28 February.
Part of Chinese New Year celebrations since the Han Dynasty (206 BC- 221 AD), the Lantern Festival is an ancient tradition.
Traditionally it was held on the 15th day of the lunar month after new year and it is believed to have originated in the belief that spirits were seen in the light of the full moon. The ancient chinese would light torches and lanterns to help them spot the ghostly apparitions.
This year’s lantern festival will be held in the North Hagley Park events village. As well as a wide variety of lanterns depicting animals, insects, flowers and characters, there will also be traditional chinese music, puppeteers and performers.
Expect to see plenty of monkey themed lanterns too - one of the favourite subjects of any festival is the zodiac animal of the year.
Night Noodle Markets
Another treat around Chinese New Year will be the launch of the Night Noodle Markets which will run in North Hagley Park between 10-14 February.
If you’re a lover of traditional asian cuisine, you’ll be able to grab delicious food from hawker-style vendors, with over 20 stalls providing a multitude of dishes. You can follow the Facebook page for regular updates on stallholders and entertainment.
Activities for all ages at Christchurch Libraries.
Christchurch Libraries are also celebrating the New Lunar Year Festival, with a series of family activities happening at Halswell and Upper Riccarton Libraries from 14-20 February. The week will culminate in a family fun day on Sunday 21 February at Upper Riccarton, with Lantern Making, Shadow Puppetry and a Scavenger Hunt all taking place.
Star lore has always been important to the chinese since ancient times and on new year Jupiter shines bright in the eastern sky.
Ancient Chinese astronomers observed Jupiter’s orbit, noting that it took around 12 years to complete its full cycle. This led to the development of the 12 year cycle of the Chinese Zodiac, with each year being associated with a different animal.
Star gazing opportunities are available at Lake Tekapo, with Earth and Sky hosting tours around the New Year period to the University of Canterbury's observatory at Mt John. The small privately run Geraldine Observatory also take star gazing bookings. Check with earthandskynz.com and geraldineobservatory.co.nz for more details.
Whatever your plans to celebrate Chinese New Year, we hope that the Year of the Monkey brings you happiness and prosperity.