The pig issue: Where and how to celebrate Chinese New Year
Yay, another new year’s party. Pigs are the symbol of wealth, so spare no expense when enjoying the fun
Well, happy new year. May your next 12 months be filled with health and happi… Hang on a second. Haven’t we done this already? On Jan 1? You know, New Year’s Day? You had a hangover, I was still angry about what you said to Sarah at the party. Ah yes. But that was plain old New Year.
I’m referring to Chinese New Year, which, being tied to the lunar calendar, rolled into view on February 5 in 2019. It welcomes the Year of the Pig, the first time the festivities have come with an oink since 2007.
Better still, Chinese New Year is a season, not a single day – celebrations will run until Feb 19. But how do you take part? In Chinese culture, pigs are the symbol of wealth, so spare no expense when making sure you enjoy the festivities.
Nowhere is more associated with Chinese New Year than Hong Kong – where the fireworks that light up the harbour have become the international emblem of the festival. They go off tonight, Wednesday February 6.
The joy of Chinese New Year lasting for two weeks is that you can drag your heels and still be in Hong Kong before the music stops. Any trip to Hong Kong will provide a chance to see the Xiqu Centre, which opened in January. Typically for the city, this devoted space for the performance of a very traditional art form, Cantonese opera (xiqu), is strikingly modern. Its entrance is designed to resemble parted stage curtains.
March is a busy time for the city. It’s Arts Month – which means a host of music and theatre events (see discoverhongkong.com). The HKWalls bonanza of street art (hkwalls.org) will run from March 23 to 31. And the latest Formula E race of electric cars will buzz round town on March 10, fiaformulae.com
If it sounds impetuous to dash to Hong Kong this time around, you can always plan ahead for a Beijing Chinese New Year in 2020 – Year of the Rat – on Jan 25. Home to the Forbidden City, and close enough to the Great Wall for day trips, Beijing is also a fine place to take in the fun.
Papa does teach
What if you aren’t fussed about China’s new year but you love its culture, and want to see the Terracotta Warriors? Where are they? Some of them are on a world tour longer than the Stones’s last stint on the road – and are in New Zealand, at Te Papa (tepapa.govt.nz), the national museum in Wellington (until April 22).
If the idea of Chinese New Year is inspiration for a wider journey around the country, there is much to be said for the 16-day Wonders of China group tour offered by Wendy Wu Tours (wendywutours.co.uk). Beijing, the Great Wall, Xi’an, the Yangtze river, and Shanghai?
Joburg's first Chinatown is on Commissioner Street. There is alawas dancing, huge rambling Chinese dragons and lions winding their way down the street. Chinese drumming and singing and kung fu and tai chi displays are the order of the day and a variety of Chinese food will be on sale in the area, including at Joburg’s oldest Chinese restaurant, Swallows Inn, and from a variety of Chinese street food stalls.
Saturday, February 23, Siu Hing Hong, 17 Commissioner Street, Ferreirasdorp, Johannesburg.
Joburg’s biggest Chinatown is in Cyrildene, close to Bruma Lake. Its landmark is the big Chinese archway at the entrance to the area. On the night, the street will be filled with street-side food stalls, offering special festive menus. In the early evening a parade will wind its way up the street, led by a Chinese lion followed by dancers in traditional costume and a long dancing Chinese dragon. A spectacular fireworks display will end the festivities.
Saturday, February 16, New Chinatown, Derrick Avenue, Cyrildene, Johannesburg.
Nan Hua Temple
Nan Hua Temple will be hosting a number of ceremonies during the day, and you can explore the temple, taking in the architecture, surroundings, and peaceful setting.
9.30am – Light-offering dharma ceremony.
10am – Opening ceremony for Chinese Cultural Festival.
10am to 3.30pm – Chinese Cultural Festival.
11.30am to 2.30pm – Multicultural performances. Sunday, February 10, Nan Hua Temple, 27 Nan Hua Road, Cultura Park, Bronkhorstspruit, Gauteng.
– © The Daily Telegraph, with additional reporting by Sunday Times staff.