A few thoughts after celebrating Chinese New Years

Chinese New Years (CNY) is almost certainly one of the most important festivals that Chinese people all around the world celebrate every year. The celebrations kick off at Chinese New Year’s Eve (which was the end of January this year) and linger for almost half a month afterwards, with the Lantern Festival marking the end of the festive season.

Unlike previous years, I spent most of CNY alone in Wellington after a reunion dinner with family in Auckland. It was a brand new experience, but a cool one. Personally, it was working through the week, and finding some more excuses for going out for brunch. Sure why not, it’s New Years, and I have to treat myself! However, it is fascinating to see how its inhabitants very much characterise cultures of different cities. In Auckland, there is a growing trend to see CNY items being displayed in local supermarkets as well as the Asian grocers. As Auckland is such a multi-cultural city, Aucklanders are more aware of different cultural activities as well as the associated festive foods and other items. For example, it is not unusual to see dumplings, sweet glutinous balls, and rice cakes dominating the display shelves at supermarkets. There are often performances including dragon dance and martial arts around the city.

What I see in Wellington is significantly different. With a much smaller Asian population and the fact that there are only 2 Asian supermarkets in Central (as far as I’m aware, also they’re both Korean), you wouldn’t expect anyone to know much about what’s going on in the Asian community. I still remember chatting with my friend in Wellington who has never heard of Yum Cha (Chinese-style tapas) when it has already become a staple Sunday brunch alternative that’s well-integrated into the lives of many non-Asian families.

However, the past 2 weeks was a great demonstration of how the Chinese community has been growing slowly. They’ve revamped the Cuba Street’s weekly Saturday night market and turned it to a CNY market with added arts and crafts that are associated with CNY back in traditional times, and there was also a friendly soccer match between the Phoenix and Beijing. Of course, the most anticipated and well-received event would be the magnificent fireworks that were put on display on the night of the Lantern Festival. Getting a panoramic view on the waterfront, I was truly in awe of the size, scale, and variety of the fireworks on a show. They blew my mind away, and I was fortunate enough to capture a moment of the magical night here. Red, a passionate and festive colour which signifies good luck and fortune for the new year. I was glad to be among a jubilant crowd and happy to have witnessed another new year that started with a bang and a splash of colours. Wishing that next year, the spectators will have a better clue of what the fireworks are and gain a deeper understanding of another culture. After all, the more you know, the more opportunities you get to celebrate! This post is a bit of a ramble, if none of that made sense, just enjoy the photo of this spectacular fireworks show!

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