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How you celebrated the Lunar New Year...

How you celebrated the Lunar New Year...

It's now officially the year of the Dragon! We had a blast with friends and family but wanted to take a look at how you guys might have celebrated too! Here's a quick recap of festivities from across the world...

Auckland, New Zealand

The launch of Auckland's Lunar New Year festivities were officiated by Prime Minister, John Key and Auckland mayor, Len Brown at the annual Chinese New Year Festival and Market day. With over 200 cultural stalls showcasing Chinese edibles and arts and a myriad of both traditional and contemporary dance, music and acrobatics, the event has become a treasured one on many an Aucklander's calendar.

During the 15 days of celebration, Chinese music, literature and arts were put on display across the city as Aucklanders of young and old attended programmes from the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra's Chinese New Year Concert to dragon storytimes at local libraries. 

Festivities in the city were rounded off with a traditional lantern festival . For 3 days, hundreds of paper lanterns and food stalls donned one of Auckland's most scenic parks (Albert Park!) with reports showing more than 100,000 people in attendance!

For a closer look at how Auckland celebrated, visit: http://www.aucklandchinese.org.nz/

Sydney, Australia

Sydney has one of the largest Asian populations outside of Asia so it's not surprising that the city also holds what is reportedly the largest Lunar New Year celebrations outside of Asia too.

The events that span over the weeks that lead up to, are during and follow the new year include dragon boat races, a Chinese film festival, multiple markets and street food stalls, cooking events, numerous parades and daily lion dance performances in Chinatown and throughout the pockets of Asian communities across the city.

For a closer look at how Sydney celebrated, visit: http://www.sydneychinesenewyear.com/

Singapore, Singapore

The theme of Singapore's Lunar New Year Celebrations seems to be bright and loud. In the week before the New Year, colourful lights don the streets of Chinatown that in 2012, were graced by a fiery red dragon twisting amongst the streetlamps.

In the weekend just prior to Lunar New Year, the annual River HongBao festival lit up Singapore's Marina Bay. Giant lanterns, capped by an 18-meter tall warrior god of fortune (over 3 storeys high!), loom into the night sky that is itself set ablaze with fireworks.

Singapore's annual Chingay Parade that closes Lunar New Year festivities was presented with a special water themed twist this year as performers incorporated it into dance routines that saw its spectacular arcs and choreographed splatters.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Lunar New Year is still a burgeoning event on the Dutch calendar but this year in the Nieuwmarkt neighbourhood next to Chinatown, Amsterdam hosted its inaugural Asian Food Festival in celebration of the Eastern event. Amongst the stalls offering tasty delights of traditional delicacies and contemporary fusion foods were dragon dances, martial arts and Asian music performances.

For a closer look at the celebrations, check out this video by Flavours of Singapore:


London, United Kingdom

On the Sunday following the official start of the New Year, London traditionally hosts a parade that kicks off in its renowned Trafalgar square. Following a Dotting of the Eye ceremony that awakens the soul of a dancing lion, music dance and acrobatics are on show for a spectacular day that concludes with a fireworks display. Amongst the 100 performers were The Chen Brothers who hold the Guiness World Record for the highest pole jump in a lion dance.

For those missing home, stalls set up in Chinatown offer uniquely Asian ingredients that are stocked specifically for  Lunar New Year celebrations and that are often difficult to otherwise find.

Dublin, Ireland

2011 saw the twinning of Dublin city to Beijing. This meant the lowering of political barriers between the two cities and of course, social barriers too. Celebrations for the Lunar New Year have never been grander in Dublin, which saw a focus on the arts as the city hosted a film festival and several exhibitions regarding China's traditional Peking Opera.

Dublin Lord Mayor Andrew Montague attended a performance of Puccini's Chinese-themed opera, 'Turandot', embracing his inner Asian and agreeing to be painted with traditional 'Dan' (female roles played by men) makeup.


Toronto, Canada

In recent years, Canada has been nationally acknowledging its multicultural populace by unveiling annual Chinese horoscope stamps, with this year's featuring stunning red, gold and black motifs.

On the local level, Toronto's Chinatown was packed with those attending the February 15 community fair. Lion dance troupes filled the streets and were sent across the city to go door-to-door between local businesses in order to bring luck and well-wishings.

San Francisco, USA

San Francisco's signature Lunar New Year event is its Chinese New Year Parade & Festival. An event that leads back to the earliest history of the city itself, the parade was first held over 150 years ago by Chinese people who migrated to the area during California's gold rush period. Combining elements of the traditional lantern parade that concludes Chinese New Year festivities, the parade and festival stretches across the city, closing down many of its busy streets. It attracts hundreds of thousands of people each year, with estimates of close to half a million in 2012.

Aside from the parade, popular events include the conventional flower market in the lead up to the new year and the pageantry of Miss Chinatown USA.

For a closer look at how San Francisco celebrated, visit: http://www.chineseparade.com/

 

Did you do anything different? Let us know if you have your own traditions or did anything special!

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