The Chinese New Year is just around the corner and needless to say, the whole world is waiting with bated breath for the celebrations to kick off. This year it falls on January 31, 2014 and will mark the beginning of Chinese year 4712. From red and gold decorations, colourful carnivals, street parades, magnificent fireworks to gourmet cuisine, fortune tellers, gift exchanges, temple fairs and elaborate customs – the lunar year festivities are both vibrant and exhilarating to say the least. We bring you the top five best places to celebrate Chinese New Year festival.
The capital of China is the best place in the world to be a part of the New Year festivities. You will come across various colourful events, carnivals, dance, music and acrobatic performances as well as plenty of cultural activities. The Temple Fairs are a must visit in Beijing and are held in different places like Wangfujing, Altar of the Earth, Dragon Pool Park, and the Ditan Park Temple Fair etc. The martial art displays, lion and dragon dances, special sales, sports competitions, gala nights and festival foods attract hordes of visitors. The midnight sky typically lights up with stunning pyro to welcome the New Year and ward off evil spirits.
Hong Kong, as always, has an array of entertainment lined up for everyone during the (Chinese) New Year of 2014. The highlights for this year include the Cathay Pacific Chinese New Year Night Parade with Shaolin Kung Fu demonstration and Nordic stilt walkers, a display of 40,000 fireworks for half a million spectators, a lively night parade, international spring festival entertainment night, spring festival races for 100,000 fans, festivities at the Victoria Harbour and so on. Check out some of the 600 ancient temples, flower markets, restaurants and shopping spots to have a mind blowing experience.
The week-long extravaganza in Shanghai is marked by a fusion of traditional rituals and a potpourri of modern entertainment. The theatres, concert halls, art centres, temples, dining venues and parks are thronged by enthusiastic revellers. The Huangpu River reigns as Shanghai’s hotspot while the glittering performances and the Lantern Parade are the other attractions. Temples like Longhua Temple, City God Temple and Jing’an Temple are ideal places to visit for praying, ringing bells and burning the first incense at midnight to welcome the New Year.
The fireworks over Marina Bay, the lion and dragon dancers, the Chingay Parade, the groovy music, fire eaters, ancient rituals, night markets, cultural activities and carnival performances are some of the captivating sights Singapore offers during the Chinese New Year Celebration. The Chinatown comes alive with richly decorated streets, ethnic restaurants and markets filled with festive meats, snacks, fruits, flowers etc.
Sydney stages eyeball grabbing events complete with floats, fireworks, music and carnivals to welcome the Chinese New Year. Various Asian markets, cooking demonstrations, tours, exhibitions, enchanting performances and cultural entertainment provide plenty of thrills for everyone. It hosts more than 80 events during this time like the (one of the largest) Dragon Boat Races with more than 3,000 paddlers; Lunar Feasts, the Dragon Ball, lion dance and the Twilight Parade with more than 3,500 local and international performers.
Five Auspicious Chinese New Year Traditions
- Cleaning and Purchasing – Cleaning the house is a must-do activity to get rid of all the negativity, dust and old energy. Purchasing new clothes gives a fresh start to the New Year.
- Lucky Money – It is given to kids as a New Year gift. It is believed to bring good luck and ward off the evil.
- Couplets – It is a tradition to decorate doorways with couplets to express good wishes and attract good luck.
- Dumplings – Made of flour and stuffed with different fillings, dumplings are considered to bring wealth.
- Chinese knots – These knots are used to decorate the house or are given as gifts. They contain blessings and good wishes.
- The Chinese New Year falls on a different date each year
- Each year is named after an animal
- Everyone becomes a year older on this day
Good Luck Foods for the Lunar Year
- Tangerines and Oranges
- Long Noodles
- Nian Gao or cake
- Jai – a cleansing vegetarian dish
- Long Leafy Greens and Long Beans
- Whole Fish
Amazing Chinese New Year Gift Ideas
- Candies, cakes, sweets to symbolise a sweet and happy future
- Fruits like oranges, apples for fertility and happiness
- Circular shaped gift items to denote completeness and fulfilment
- Red and gold coloured objects or wrappings for luck and wealth
- New clothes for a new start and positivity
- Bath and body products or massage and pedicure equipment to start off with wellness
- Nutritious foods, health supplements, multivitamins and herbs to stay healthy
- Fruit baskets, potted flowers, Chinese tea and good quality wine to welcome the New Year
Whether you enjoy cultural explorations, vibrant festivals or are looking forward to start a year with loads of love, luck and happiness – the Chinese New Year may just bring you all of that and more. In fact if you believe life is one big celebration, wait till you take part in any of the Lunar Year carnivals. You would not probably want the party to end!