Whilst the Western calendar celebrated the New Year back on 1st January, the traditional Chinese Calendar refreshed on 8th February. Chinese New Year is celebrated on the new moon between 21st January and 20th February . Each year is marked by one of twelve Chinese Zodiac signs – this year is the year of the monkey!
It is believed that the animal represents your personality and character traits – for example, those born between now and next February, in the year of the monkey, are said to be enthusiastic, self-assured, sociable and innovative.
Customarily in the UK, we like to celebrate Chinese New Year by filling our faces with our favourite Chinese dish – and many people came out to The Real China Kung Fu restaurant at The Harvey Centre last weekend, enjoying their delicious Chinese buffet. Following their superstitious culture, there are ‘rules’ for what foods can (and can’t!) be eaten to usher in the New Year and ward off bad spirits.
As well as the tasty food, the restaurant treated the Harvey Centre to a time-honoured Chinese Lion Dance, complete with performing percussionists.
A Lion Dance sees two highly trained kung fu experts who work together inside the bright and festive lion costume (similar to a Dragon Dance, which sees several performers in one costume) to perform acrobatic stunts and dance moves – and we got to watch the whole thing as the mystic lion made its way from the restaurant all the way through the Centre, greeting shoppers and locals as it masterfully wove through onlookers.
The atmosphere was of pure delight as shoppers enjoyed the thumping sounds of the percussion and the daring stunts, before the show concluded with the tradition of the lion ‘eating’ a lettuce dangled from the ceiling.
Kids and grown-ups alike had a fabulous time watching the traditional dance before the lion, beckoned by its masked trainer, returned to the restaurant to grab its lettuce and greet the crowds.
Are you feeling left wanting to join in the celebrations? Head down to the Real China to celebrate the year of the monkey and devour your own feast of tasty Chinese dishes!
Happy New Year!