Year of the Rooster: Chinese New Year celebrations kick off in Auckland

By Lincoln Tan

KEY POINTS

New Year may be done and dusted for many Kiwis, but for Chinese New Zealanders like Tiffany Shan, it is still a week to go before they celebrate New Year.

New Year may be done and dusted for many Kiwis, but for Chinese New Zealanders like Tiffany Shan, it is still a week to go before they celebrate New Year.

According to the Chinese lunar calendar, Chinese New Year will this year fall on January 28 - when the year of the monkey switches to the rooster.

It is a time for reunion, where elaborate and lavish meals are eaten and when the entire holiday is laden with symbolism.

Shan, 32, an Auckland mother-of-two, says it is going to be a very special new year for Chinese here.

"It falls on the same weekend as Auckland anniversary, so it means we will be getting a long weekend to celebrate Chinese New Year," Shan said.

It will also be extra special for the family because her parents are visiting from China, and a three-generational reunion dinner is being planned for New Year's Eve.

"For the first time in a very long time, it will feel like a real reunion dinner for us," she said.

In China, the eve is seen as an important date, with families gathering for a reunion dinner, or nian ye fan, where dishes with auspicious meanings are served.

Fish is favoured because the Chinese word sounds like "surplus of wealth", prawns because it has a similar pronunciation to "laughter" and noodles connote longevity because they are long.

Like Shan, the hot pot is a favourite option for many New Zealand Chinese families for their reunion dinner.

Consisting of a simmering pot of broth at the centre, these "lucky ingredients" are added into the pot and are cooked at the table.

"It is the easiest way to cook a New Years feast with all the symbolic food," she said.

Also, almost certainly with hot pot dining there will be leftovers - which is a positive sign in the context of Chinese New Year. It signifies surplus or abundance of prosperity in the coming year.

Hot pot is a tradition dating back more than 2000 years, a Chinese rendition of fondue where ingredients are cooked inside a simmering pot.

Shan and her husband Louis Zhang, 28, this month opened a hot pot restaurant - Little Sheep - in Oteha Valley.

"It's very timely, because this is probably where we will have our reunion dinner," she said.

Auckland's annual public Chinese New Year festivities, which have grown bigger every year, kick off tomorrow.

Bill English will be opening the Chinese New Year Festival at ASB Showgrounds and officiating the "eye dotting ceremony" for the first time as Prime Minister.

The event will also be a first for Judith Collins since becoming Minister for Ethnic Communities, again following last month's cabinet reshuffle.

"I am very pleased to be taking up the portfolio of ethnic communities again, and Chinese New Year is an auspicious time to start," Collins said.

"I see Chinese New Year as a time to reflect on the previous year and put our best foot forward in the next, as well as to celebrate with our families and communities."

The minister said Chinese New Year had now become a major cultural festival in New Zealand.

"Chinese people have been part of New Zealand since the 1850s and are one of New Zealand's largest ethnic communities," she said.

"The range of ethnicities and cultures in our population continue to grow - enriching us culturally, socially and economically."

Event organiser and Chinese community leader Kai Luey said about he was expecting a crowd of about 30,000.

A group from Liaoning, China, was brought in especially to perform at the event, which would also include acrobats, a face changer and cultural performers.

Another annual event, Lunarfest 2017, will be taking place at the Vodafone Event Centre from tomorrow afternoon, culminating with a fireworks display when darkness falls.

This is the year of the fire rooster - lucky numbers will be 5, 7 and 8 and auspicious colours are gold, brown and yellow.

Celebrate the Year of the Rooster in Auckland

Chinese New Year Festival & Market Day

When: Tomorrow, 9.30am to 4pm

Where: ASB Showgrounds, Epsom

Highlights: Dragon and lion dancing, acrobats, cultural performances and 200 food and specialist stalls.

Lunarfest 2017: Year of the Rooster

When: Tomorrow, 3pm to 11pm

Where: Vodafone Events Centre, Manukau

Highlights: Cultural performances, pop music, 100 market stalls and fireworks extravaganza.

SkyCity Year of the Rooster celebrations

When: Jan 27 and 28, 7pm start

Where: SkyCity, Auckland Central

Highlights: Dragon and lion dancing, acrobats, calligraphy and God of Fortune skyjump on New Year's Day.

Chinese & Korean New Year Festival 2017

When: Jan 28, 11am to 6pm

Where: Northcote Shopping Centre, Northcote

Highlights: Cultural and stage performances, family activities and Asian food stalls
.
Whau Chinese New Year Festival

When: Jan 29, noon to 10pm

Where: New Lynn Community Centre, New Lynn

Highlights: Stage performances, lion dancing and art displays.

Parnell Chinese New Year

When: Feb 4, 11am to 2pm

Where: Heard Park, Parnell Rd, Parnell

Highlights: Lion dancing, cultural dances, traditional Chinese music and rooster displays at shops

Auckland Lantern Festival

When: Feb 9 to Feb 12

Where: Auckland Domain, Grafton

Highlights: 800 lantern display, music and dance performances, Chinese art and street food stalls

Auckland feng shui master Francis Lui is predicting the year to be a rather unsettled one.
"It is symbolised by yin fire sitting on top of metal...you will be seeing a fighting relationship, and can expect some fire disaster and also war in the new year," Lui said.

There would not be much growth for "wood related" industries, said Lui, and these include newspapers, publishing, textile and forestry.

The rooster year will also not be good for car, banking and other "metal" industries, which would see extreme competition.

But the elements point to a good year for property, construction, entertainment and communication.

"The fire and metal element is going to bring wealth and prosperity to fire and water related industries," said Lui.

According to Lui, It will be a good year for people born under the monkey, rat and dragon to get married, but not for the rooster.

"People born under the rooster sign is facing self penalty which will affect relationship and marriage," Lui said.

The belief in Chinese astrology was that people offend the god of age in their zodiac year and will be unlucky.

If you are born in the rooster year - 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005 - then you will be observant, hardworking, confident and resourceful.

Rooster celebrities include Serena Williams, Rod Stewart, Alicia Keys, Guy Sebastian and Beyonce Knowles.

They love being around people but can also be seen as vain and attention seekers.

Chinese New Year events across the country have been taking place since early January.

Last weekend, new local Chinese television station NCTV hosted its first new year variety show - with celebrities from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan - at the Bruce Mason Centre in Takapuna.

Fo Guang Shan temple in Albany also hosted a mass reunion dinner, the largest event of its kind here, on its grounds on Saturday night.

As Chinese New Year approaches, hotels and restaurants are also getting into the festive act.

Stamford Plaza Hotel is launching a Chinese New Year celebration menu and a lion dance will be performed there on New Year's Day.

Smile Dessert on Dominion Rd has come up with Chinese New Year inspired desserts - from sweet glutinous rice balls, mango mille crepe and crystal mango rolls - each with its own auspicious and symbolic meaning.

For the very first time at SkyCity, a dragon dance will be performed before firecrackers are set off.

The quintessential Chinese god of fortune Caishen Ye will "descend from the heavens" via a skyjump from the Sky Tower on New Year's Day.

"The Chinese community plays a big part at SkyCity Auckland...and we're pleased to celebrate Auckland's vibrant and diverse culture by providing this entertainment for our community each year," said SkyCity spokeswoman Kelly Armitage.

The Auckland Lantern Festival, at the Auckland Domain from February 9 to 12, will close the festivities.

Chinese New Year

When is Chinese New Year?

The Year of the Rooster will start on January 28. Celebrations begin on New Year's Eve and typically last around two weeks. It is also known as the Spring Festival.

Why is it on a different date every year?

It is based on the lunar calendar which is two days shorter than the solar calendar per month. It makes up for it with an extra month added every two years. There are 13 months in the year of the rooster.

What is Chinese zodiac?

There are 12 animal signs in Chinese zodiac, and it attaches different animals to each lunar year in a 12 year cycle.

What animal is represented in the New Year?

The Year of the Rooster.

- NZ Herald

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