Children were a focus of celebrations
Chinese New Year celebrations in Great Yarmouth
By Penny Shillito
More than a hundred people came together for a lively Chinese New Year celebration in Great Yarmouth. Eye-catching lion dances and lucky songs welcomed in the year of the rat.
A traditional lion dance accompanied by clattering drums and cymbals ushered in the year of the rat in Great Yarmouth on Sunday, 10 February, 2008.
Alongside the colourful and noisy dance, performances of Chinese opera, a graceful Chinese ribbon dance, recitals, table tennis and chess games also marked the start of the New Year.
The event at the Royal Hotel on the resort's Golden Mile was put together by the Great Yarmouth Chinese Association - with a membership that stretches from Lowestoft to Cromer.
Many people dressed in colourful costumes for the celebrations which included lucky red packets containing money - known as lai see - being handed out to children.
The eye-catching lion dance
Move towards Mandarin
It turned out to be a big day for the children from the town's Chinese school - where they have been learning Mandarin.
The pupils put their new skills into practice, reciting lucky phrases and singing a traditional Chinese song.
The Chinese school meets every weekend so pupils aged between four and 15 can learn Mandarin, with tutors also teaching English to some of the parents.
Many people from the local Chinese community moved to England from Hong Kong, where the main language is Cantonese, which is mostly spoken by the parents whose children attend the classes.
About thirty children attend the school, but numbers are growing because Mandarin is seen as an important language for the children's future.
Mandarin, however, is the official language of China, and many parents think that it will give their children an advantage when they grow up.
Denise Yu, whose daughters Emma and Sally attend the Chinese school, is one of those who think her children will benefit from having a second language.
"Chinese (Mandarin) is a main language spoken by a large population and with China's economical strengths, I think it will be helpful for them when they grow up. It would be a second language for them," she said.
"I think learning Mandarin also gives them a good advantage if they want go into business."
Some parents see a future for their children working in China and keeping links with family living in China is important.
"I take my children back every summer so they can put their Mandarin into practice, and deal with my family who don't all speak English," said Denise.
last updated: 19/02/2008 at 10:42