Making plans for Chinese New Year Sydney Celebrations? 2019 is the Year of the Pig, which is an auspicious sign to be born under. The pig’s well-rounded features and big ears mean this should be a year which brings general good fortune.
The lunar new year is one of the most important celebrations in Chinese culture. The occasion is marked by fireworks and lots of food, as well as by giving red envelopes full of money. As this is a fun and important event in the annual calendar, people like to plan ahead and are always looking for authentic places to celebrate.
Take a look at some of the interesting facts behind Chinese New Year and find out where to celebrate Chinese New Year Sydney.
Why Chinese New Year is celebrated in February
In the western world, we use the Gregorian calendar, which was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in the late 16th century. In the East, however, the population has always favoured the long-established Chinese Calendar.
The Gregorian Calendar celebrates the new year at the same time each year, while Chinese New Year moves from year to year.
There is a simple reason for this. The western calendar is based on the movement of the sun, while the Chinese calendar is based on the cycles of the moon. This makes each month about two days shorter than Western months.
Christians celebrate Easter in line with the moon. In a similar way, each Chinese New Year falls on the second day of the new moon after Winter Solstice. Christians know Easter will fall sometime around late April to early May, and those celebrating the Chinese New Year understand it will take place between January 21st and February 21st. To make sure that this happens, a thirteenth month is added to the calendar every so often.
Celebrating Chinese New Year in China
Chinese New Year is a joyous occasion full of fireworks, red Chinese lanterns and spectacular parades. Because the festival is observed as a national holiday in China, it is celebrated on a significant scale. Banks, schools and many businesses close to mark the occasion.
In fact, if you are expecting a delivery from a Chinese supplier around February, you may end up waiting a while. The official new year period lasts for fifteen days but many factories and other businesses close down for a month.
During Chinese new year, Chinese nationals dress up in their favourite red clothing as a symbol of new beginnings. Red is a lucky colour in this culture and is believed to protect one from bad luck in the new year. A much-loved tradition at Chinese New Year involves exchanging special red envelopes called Hongbao which are filled with money to ward off evil spirits.
To wish someone a happy new year in Chinese, it is traditional to say something which can be translated to ‘Kung Hei Fat Choi’ or ‘Gong Hei Fat Choi’ in Cantonese. This means ‘congratulations and be prosperous’.
Traditional Chinese New Year celebrations
The following are some of the traditions, superstitions and special things you can expect to see during Chinese New Year:
- Fireworks, and plenty of them! The loud booms and noises are said to scare away evil spirits. Traditionally, a string of smaller firecrackers is released first. These crackers are followed by three much bigger fireworks, symbolising the end of the old year and the beginning of the new year. The loudness of the larger firecrackers predicts how business and farming will fare in the new year — of course, the louder, the better!
- Traditionally, Door God images are affixed to doors for longevity, health and peace. Door Gods are also said to attract good luck and ward away evil spirits.
- Spring Couplets. These are phrases written in Chinese characters, which are filled with positive thoughts and wishes. Like Door Gods, spring couplets are believed to vanquish evil spirits.
- The Chinese also enjoy a lovely family meal on New Year’s Eve. The family cherishes time together, with different generations sharing delicious food and each other’s company.
- A modern tradition in China is to watch the CCTV New Year Gala. The family will commonly gather to watch this while they enjoy their dinner celebrations. The gala features many different acts, from music to acrobatics. According to Wikipedia, this is the biggest entertainment show broadcast in the world, with over 1 billion viewers in 2018.
- As with the Western New Year, Chinese New Year is a time to stay up late and greet the new year. Revellers may stay up the whole night to protect themselves from the adverse effects of evil spirits.
- In western culture, new year is one night only. The Chinese New Year ends after 15 days. At this time, a Lantern Festival is held, marking the end of the Chinese New Year festivities.
2019: Year Of The Pig
The Chinese Zodiac, established during the Han Dynasty, is based on a twelve-year cycle, with a different animal signifying each year. There are many different origin myths for the designation of the animals, but two are by far the most prevalent.
First is the great race myth:
The Jade Emperor summoned the animals to a meeting and decreed that the order in which they arrived would be the order of the twelve years. After some squabbling, tricks and some cooperation, the animals arrived, with the lazy little pig waddling in last.
The myth of the animal call to arms:
This myth says the Buddha called on all the animals to help mankind and only twelve responded. These twelve became those in the Chinese Zodiac.
As with the Western Zodiac, the animals of the Chinese Zodiac represent different characteristics. Peoples’ personalities being said to match the animal of their birth year. For instance, those born in the Year of the Rat have spirit while those born in the Year of the Ox are diligent and honest.
Once twelve years have passed, starting with the rat, the cycle of animals repeats. We are just leaving the Year of the Dog and heading into the Year of the Pig, the last year of this cycle.
The animals of the Chinese zodiac and the next year they will enter the cycle are:
- Pig (2019)
- Rat (2020)
- Ox (2021)
- Tiger (2022)
- Rabbit (2023)
- Dragon (2024)
- Snake (2025)
- Horse (2026)
- Sheep (2027)
- Monkey (2028)
- Rooster (2029)
- Dog (2030)
Year of the Pig: here’s what’s in store for us
The pig may not be the most celebrated of animals, but it does have its good qualities. In China, pigs are associated with wealth and those born in the Year of the Pig are considered well behaved and generally well-meaning. Also, as 2019 is their year, people born under the pig sign should enjoy a happy and prosperous 12 months.
2019 is predicted to be a happy and relaxing year for almost everyone. It is said the atmosphere this year will be a festive one though it is important not to forget our responsibilities!
Some zodiac experts say ‘Tigers’ can expect some humbling moments in 2019 as this creature’s feisty personality clashes with the earthy Pig.
The Snake, as an extreme opposite to the Pig, will have obstacles to overcome before earning a final reward. Busy and chaotic Monkeys are apparently disliked by Pigs, so for them, 2019 should include time for inward reflection and personal growth.
While other signs can expect a more stable and prosperous year, Dogs will have to work hard to change their fortunes in 2019.
What can Pigs expect?
Though the Pig is associated with some negative qualities like gullibility and sluggishness, there is no reason to despair if you’re a Pig. These creatures are noble, intelligent and creative. Associated with happiness and abundance, the Pig is actually a very positive sign to be born under.
Pigs have an innate sense of fairness and honesty, and tend to be followed by good luck. Compatible with Tigers, Rabbits and Sheep, Pigs have a great chance of achieving long-term love and fulfilling relationships. However, experts recommend avoiding Monkeys and Snakes.
Overall, Pigs are great to be around and make friends easily. Just watch out for overindulgence… enjoying too many of the finer things in life is the Pig’s main weakness. The little Pig came last in the zodiac race because he stopped to eat and have a nap after all.
Celebrating Chinese New Year Sydney with FOOD
As you can imagine, the foods eaten during Chinese New Year are a delectable smorgasbord of everything from fruit to seafood. The most popular foods enjoyed by the Chinese include dumplings, spring rolls, fish and fruit.
Here are some traditional Chinese foods to ring in the new year:
- Chinese people love Tangerines, as the Chinese words for gold and orange sound similar. The word for tangerine sounds a lot like the word for luck. People believe that they bring prosperity and success for the new year.
- The Tray of Togetherness is another tradition. As the name suggests, this is given as a gift during the celebrations. The tray has eight compartments for different symbolic foods. Eight is the Chinese number for good luck.
- Chinese people commonly eat noodles on New Years. The length of the noodles symbolises the length of your lifespan. The longer the noodles, the longer you live!
- Nian Gao: A sweet dessert made from glutinous rice flour, this is popular during the New Year festivities. Some believe that this dessert helps you climb the rungs of the social ladder. Nian Gao sounds like ‘Higher Year’ in Chinese.
- Whole Fish, from the head to tail, is served to represent a prosperous beginning and end to the New Year. Fish symbolises wealth as the word in Chinese sounds like the word for abundance.
- Chinese dumplings, or Jiaozi, are typical fare for Chinese New Years. The shape of these dumplings bears a resemblance to old coins or Yuanbao. It is even traditional to hide a coin inside a dumpling, for prosperity.
- Dried oysters are a lucky food to eat at New Years. As with the other foods, it is all about the wording. The Cantonese word for these treats resembles the word for good business.
- Another lucky snack that is much loved among the Chinese at New Years is Lion’s Head Meatballs. These are large meatballs that are wrapped in steamed cabbage. The meatballs represent strength, power and family harmony.
- Foods wrapped in lettuce are a favourite at New Years as the Cantonese word for lettuce is similar to the Cantonese word for rising fortune. Lettuce wraps indicate an increase in wealth for the new year!
How to celebrate Chinese New Year in Sydney
Looking to celebrate Chinese New Year in Sydney? One of the biggest celebrations of Chinese New Year will take place at the Chinese Garden of Friendship in Darling Harbour.
Expect demonstrations, lanterns, workshops and more over the three weekends’ worth of celebrations. In Sydney, head to Dixon St to find the Haymarket area, better known as the hub of Chinatown.
During Chinese New Year, there will be market stalls, performances, general merrymaking and all sorts of cheer. Traditional Chinese Dragon Boat races will take place at Cockle Bay Wharf in Sydney, and a twilight parade will take place from Town Hall to Chinatown.
Further west, Parramatta will be ringing in the new Lunar Year in style in Centenary Square. You can expect to see installations, dragon dancers and firecrackers, among many other things. Head to the Chang Lai Yuan Chinese Gardens in Nurragingy Reserve near Blacktown for a cultural extravaganza for Easterners and Westerners alike.
In the inner south-west, Lantern Club in Roselands is the place to be for Chinese New Year Sydney. Here, we specialise in great wine, excellent food and fantastic entertainment. You can expect a friendly family environment during Chinese New Year, perfect for anyone and everyone who wants to enjoy a great night out.
Lantern Club will again have some amazing specials in MaZi from 4 February to 10 February including salt & pepper pork fillet and sweet & sour chicken. To see the Chinese New Year specials, follow us on Facebook.