Celebrating Chinese New Year
Welcome to the Year of the Ox! Discover how Birmingham's Chinese community celebrate the new year and find out about the celebration events in the Arcadian centre on Sunday 1st February 2009.
As Chinese New Year celebrations marking the Year of the Ox are in full swing, the Chinese community in Birmingham talk about what the advent of the Chinese year 4076 means to them.
Chinese zodiac animals
The ox is known as the second animal in the Chinese zodiac circle. Legend has it that the jade emperor ordered all the animals in the kingdom to take part in a race across the river which would determine their status in the lunar circle.
Year of the Ox
The ox was initially the first animal and being a good-natured creature, it carried the water-weary rat on its back across the river. Craftily the rat jumped off the cow's back claiming first position.
Those born under the Year of the Ox are described as being logical, enduring and hard working. Relevant to the current economic climate one can say!
Birmingham welcomes the Year of the Ox
The annual events taking place in the Birmingham Arcadian centre begin this weekend on the 1st of February 2009.
Birmingham’s Chinese New Year celebrations are the largest in the Midlands. With traditional firecrackers, dragon dances and cultural performances, this is a fun day out for all the family. See the full rundown of the day's events here:
Birmingham's Chinese New Year celebrations in pictures
Chef Sun Sing Lam
How Birmingham's Chinese community celebrates
Surrounded by the aroma of Chinese delicatessen and the vibrant decorations in Birmingham’s China Town, outside his restaurant, Chef Sun Sing Lam speaks excitedly to Shareen Shafique about the significance of the 15 days of festivities:
"The first day is the happiest one, because everybody has a new year. We celebrate the end of the old year.
"We have plenty food, sweet or non sweet food in the home. We go to other people to say 'kung hei fat choi' - it means have a nice new year and good health."
Adjacent to Sun Sing’s restaurant, is Annie Liew’s business Mann and Company Solicitors. she expresses her joy at the New Year and why she finds it significant:
"I was originally born in Malaysia, Chinese New Year has been a tradition in the family because my ancestors came from China so every year we celebrate Chinese new year."
Family, food and fun
Central to the new year celebrations is good rest and a family reunion, combined with the pleasures of food, fun and activities.
Chinese New Year 2009
Annie says; "On Sunday – last day of the year - it is very important, all the family get together to have a meal.
"This is the only time in the year, where the Chinese people have two weeks off work."
Referring to her own business Annie says "In the UK it's business as usual, normally we are open everyday, but Sunday I'll be closed because there is a big celebration here, it will be very exciting and busy."
Kung hei fat choi is a traditional greeting
Out with the old, in with the new
To ensure that the New Year will bring good luck, people usually follow certain rituals to cleanse themselves of any bad luck they may have acquired in the previous year. For the Chinese community it is an opportunity to renew.
Housiao Hong a 24 year-old student standing outside the Arcadian says:
"We will clean for two days before the New Year – it’s the traditional way – clean your house or cut your hair. You are then fresh and new and any bad luck will be gone.
Families will celebrate with food and fun
Flowers and red packets
"Also in China we will buy some flowers and some oranges, like a mandarin and decorate the house and stick red banners everywhere, as it has a special meaning, it will make you lucky and everything will go well."
Red is also a significant colour in the Chinese New year, this is evident by the red lanterns that decorate the Arcadian centre and Chris from Rubery explains "we get these red packets that have money which gives you luck."
Enjoying Silk Screens Birmingham 2008
Around the corner from Ladywell Walk, hairdresser Johnny Chung explains, "Chinese people say 'kung hei fat choi' which means this year you will make more money and you will be rich."
Chinese community on film
Birmingham will celebrate the Chinese New Year with events at the Arcadian Centre on Sunday the 1st of February 2009.
last updated: 30/01/2009 at 12:53