There’s nothing quite like a good celebration to bring people and communities together, especially free community events. This year I had the opportunity to experience my first ever Chinese New Year festival, when I popped along to Northbridge for the Chung Wah Association’s family-friendly one-day street celebration.
Now Perth, as I’ve discovered during my relatively short time here, is a wonderfully diverse multicultural city. And the Chinese community plays a big part in its growing diversity. For Chinese people, the New Year is the most important date of the lunar calendar and a major festival for most Australian cities, Perth included.
Street parades, with lion dancing, firecrackers and food stalls, are a big part of these celebrations. And given the importance of New Year, the festivities, organised by the Chung Wah Association, certainly did the Chinese community proud. Colourful, fun and entertaining, it’s fair to say that Perth’s Chinese community certainly knows how to celebrate in style!
In true Perth fashion, the weather on the day was sunny and warm (although thankfully not as hot as last year’s 41 degree heat I’m told!) with people of all ages out to have a good time, enjoy the pleasant weather and help the city’s Chinese migrants usher in the Year of the Goat. With over 100 stalls selling food and drink and a range of products and services, it was fun to mingle with the crowds on James Street and soak up the lively atmosphere. I especially enjoyed the multi-cultural entertainment – even, dare I admit it, the Morris dancing! But as fun as the daytime festivities were, for me the best was yet to come.
The day was brought to a close with a multicultural concert at Northbridge Piazza. A treat for both the eyes and the ears, like the rest of the crowd I was in awe of the amazing performances. I loved the lion dance; a traditional Chinese dance performed to bring good luck and fortune, and to scare away evil spirits.
The concert also included the show-stopping Chinese mask changing and fire breathing, and the eye-catching Sichuan Kung Fu tea act, which involves pouring tea from an elaborate long-spouted teapot. For me, a Western woman who grew up in a relatively small village in England, this was my first opportunity to experience traditional Chinese culture.
The Chinese New Year Fair left me entertained, educated and much more culturally aware. I felt it was the perfect opportunity to showcase Chinese culture, and perhaps most importantly, allow as many people as possible to learn more about China.
8 fun facts about Chinese New Year
- The date changes every year. Chinese New Year is determined by the Chinese lunar calendar. Which means Chinese New Year will always fall between 21 January and 20 February.
- During the Chinese New Year red envelopes are exchanged, which contain cash. Older people give envelopes to younger people, while bosses are known to give out red envelopes to their employees.
- It’s a popular festival in the UK. Over 300,000 people take part in the celebrations across the capital.
- The period just before Chinese New Year is the busiest travel time of the whole year. Everyone that can goes home to celebrate with their families.
- Every Chinese New Year brings with it a new animal zodiac year. 2014 was the Year of the Horse, this year is the Year of the Goat, and next year it will be the Year of the Monkey.
- The traditional Chinese New Year celebration lasts for a whopping 15 days.
- The colour red is said to be a lucky colour. Hence the reason why decorations are always red.
- It’s a big no-no to wash your hair on the first day of Chinese New Year. Apparently some Chinese people believe doing so means washing away your good luck and fortune for the year ahead.
Article published in Chung Wah Magazine, volume 23 April 2015