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Review: Chinese New Year Celebrations

Chinese New Year Celebrations

It is the year 4712, year of the Green Wooden Horse (or 2014 as you might know it). The 2014 Chinese Year is the thirty first in the sixty-year cycle called Chia Wu and described in Chinese tradition as ‘Horse in the Clouds’.

Sunday 26 January saw the Blackpool Chinese Community Association putting on an amazing show when they celebrated Chinese New Year 2014 at the Winter Gardens.  The Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Manchester came over in the role of honoured guest at the celebrations organised by Mr Peter Liu, CEO of BCCA.

The Horseshoe promenade, which surrounds the Winter Gardens’ Pavilion Theatre, exhibited various aspects of Chinese culture, with gaily painted Chinese lanterns, wooden puzzle animals, bonsai, hand carved teak, Chinese lucky cats and a mini Chinese restaurant.

Henry Chan, a second year student at Blackpool Sixth Form College, was ably demonstrating the ancient art of Chinese brush painting. Henry was taught this as a small child in his native Hong Kong and continues to practice his skills.

The highlight of the festivities was the elaborate Chinese dancing which, thanks to a lull in the truly British rain, was able to take place outside in St. John’s Square.  The famous Dragon Dance began with the loud and steady beating of drums and cymbals as the huge dragon, made of silk and paper with bamboo poles, was stirred into life, held aloft by the energetic men from the Liverpool Hung Gar Kung Fu group, who danced as they guided the colourful beast around the square in circles, chasing the golden ball.

Simultaneously, two highly decorated ‘lions’ from Blackpool Unicorns began to dance their way from Coronation Street, up Church Street and into St. John’s Square, just in time to meet three even larger lions, and a baby lion from the Liverpool Hung Gar Kung Fu group. The huge puppets filled the Blackpool square with dazzling colour and vibrant dancing for over thirty minutes, much to the amusement and entertainment of a quite considerable crowd of onlookers. The dance culminated in the setting off of firecrackers, to chase away bad luck and welcome in the good for the coming year.  This filled the square with a column of mystic smoke which drew all the animals to dance within it.

The dragon and all six lions then noisily danced their way into the Winter Gardens, creating a truly extraordinary sight, followed by a fascinated crowd right down into the Pavilion, where a celebratory banquet took place. Tables were set with the gift of an orange to represent good fortune for each guest, as the words for orange and luck are the same in Chinese.

And do you know, after all that, the sun came out. If you missed it this time, be there next year, it was amazing!  Until then, Kung Hei Fat Choy! Or, as it’s said in English, happy New Year!

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