Chinese New Year snake ousts dragon

By Lincoln Tan

Chinese New Year festivities start with a bang this evening with firecrackers, gongs, drums and lion dancing at Auckland's SkyCity.

Today marks the end of the year by the lunar calendar, and tomorrow sees the start of the year of the snake, with celebrations lasting 15 days.

Ethnic Affairs Minister Judith Collins said Chinese New Year gave all Kiwis a second opportunity to reflect on the year gone by and set goals for the year ahead.

"Our Chinese communities bring a great range of skills, talents and expertise to New Zealand's shores," Ms Collins said.

Having a special reunion dinner, wearing red clothes, not sweeping the floor and sharing good luck by exchanging red money bags are some of the traditions observed in the festival.

Koreans also observe the lunar new year, and the local community will honour Kiwi veterans who fought in the Korean war, with Korean children bowing in front of the old soldiers at the Korean Consulate celebrations at Takapuna Grammar today.

The bowing is a typical Korean custom for the lunar new year where the younger generation show their respect to the older generation, said consulate spokeswoman Arum Jung.

Northcote Town Centre is holding its annual Chinese and Korean New Year festival today, with dragon dancing and other cultural performances.

Chinese New Year will also be observed in Parliament on Wednesday.

The Auckland Lantern Festival, marking the end of the celebrations, will run during the weekend of February 22 to 24 in Albert Park, which will be transformed into a garden of lights and lined with street food stalls.

For the first time, fireworks launched from the SkyTower on the Sunday will close the festival.

- The Aucklander

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