A freelance writer and bargain hunter with wanderlust, recently moved to Perth from Brisbane.
Auspicious red colour at Chinese New Year
Why is Chinese New Year associated with the auspicious colour of red? Money is given out in red packets to little kids, lanterns are red, red firecrackers are lit and red banners are hung outside Chinese homes to bring good luck.
This is due to legend; Chinese New Year started out with a fight with a mystical creature called "Nian" which translates to "Year" in English. Known for devouring crops and villagers, the villagers decided to offer food outside their doorsteps to appease the creature. Fireworks were lit to scare away the "Nian" and the creature was believed to be afraid of the colour red. So that is the reason why people wear red clothing during Chinese New Year - to scare off bad fortune and evil spirits.
So, if you are even remotely superstitious, wearing red clothes on the 10th of February 2013 may just be the key to happiness and good luck in the new year.
Another tradition during Chinese New Year is lion dances. Along the same theme, the lion chases away bad spirits due to its power, wisdom and good fortune; bringing prosperity to the businesses it performs for. Lion dances usually require one person at the head and one at the tail, accompanied by loud, festive music. Musicians generally include a drummer, cymbal and gong player.
Lion dances are usually performed by talented kung fu martial artists, showing off their skills by mastering the lion, enhancing their enduring strength and agility. Performing a lion dance is no easy feat; there is a lot of fancy footwork involved. Lions usually approach a lettuce called the "choy ching" which conceals a lucky red packet for the lions. The lion may back away but it will eventually eat the green, spitting the remaining lettuce at the audience. Don't try to swerve and avoid the lettuce as it is considered good luck to be "hit" by the lettuce remains.
Brisbane has a large multi-cultural community and there are many Chinese New Year lion dance events held in various suburbs, especially since there are variations of lion dances in Vietnam, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan and Korea. So, depending on where you live, you may want to come and usher in the Year of the Snake, a year of prosperity and peace. Snakes are symbols of luck due to its importance in Vietnamese life to balance the ecosystem by eating mice, a pest that the wet-rice agriculture farmers are happy to get rid of.
See below for a list of lion dance & Chinese New Year related festivities held in the month of January & February:
Fortitude Valley Organised by the City Council of Brisbane, there will be celebrations over 10 days, held at China Town, Duncan Street, Fortitude Valley, showcasing over 60 performances, 24 stalls, lion dances, martial art performances, Chinese classical music and a Chinese New Year theme performance called Chinese New Year Wedding and lots of fire crackers. This will be held between Friday 8th February to Sunday 17th February.
Indooroopilly On the 19th of January, Indooroopilly library is holding a Chinese New Year event at Indooroopilly Shoppingtown, 318 Moggill Rd Indooroopilly, featuring performers from the Brisbane chapter of Shaolin Kung Fu Guan.
A lion dance celebration will be held at Springfield Marketplace, 30-34 Commercial Drive, Springfield at 11.30am with spot prizes. You may have the opportunity to be one of three lucky people to win a $100 store credit. For more information, see their website here.