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The Chinese New Year celebrations at Brightwater Common were said to be the best yet to be held at the park. About 2 000 people turned up for the fun and the food.
BRIGHTWATER Common in Randburg turned into little China on Saturday, 12 February for Chinese New Year celebrations.

 

The dragion dance proved popular amongst the audienceThe dragon danceThe pathways through the venue and tents on the common were decorated with Chinese lanterns, while exhibitors displayed and sold Chinese cuisine and clothes. Over 2 000 people attended the party.
 

“The event was a huge success. It was the best we have had [at the centre], and I think this is the fifth year we have had it,” said the centre’s marketing manager, Francois du Buisson.

Dragon and lion dances proved popular, mesmerising the audience with their unusual moves, while the magic show provoked not only amazement but laughter from spectators as the magicians played magic tricks on unsuspecting viewers.

There were also acrobatics, contortionists and fire acts, traditional umbrella and fan dancing, fish dancers and martial arts demonstrations. Mary Masenya, one of the many visitors to the festival, was impressed. “Wow, those [fish] dancers are beautiful. They look like they have just stepped out of the ocean,” she said.

Chinese New Year starts with the new moon, and festivities last for 15 days. The last day of the celebrations is called the Lantern Festival, which takes place at night with lantern displays and parades.

New Year’s Eve
New Year’s Eve is a family affair, a time of reunion and thanksgiving. Traditionally, the celebration is marked with a religious ceremony to honour the gods of heaven and Earth and family ancestors. Sacrifices to the gods are important because they unite the living members of the family with the dead.

The presence of these gods is recognised with a family dinner. The spirits of the ancestors then join the living to celebrate New Year. This celebration is called Weilu and it symbolises family unity.

On the first day of the New Year festival, the gods of heaven and Earth are welcomed. On this day, people do not eat meat because it is believed that this will give them long and happy lives. On the second day, they pray. They also treat dogs with special care as they believe it is the day dogs were created.

 

Shoppers browse through Chinese merchandiseShoppers browse through Chinese merchandiseOn the third and fourth days, sons-in-law are supposed to honour their parents-in-law. The fifth day is called Po Woo. On this day, people stay at home to welcome the god of wealth. People do not visit their relatives or friends as this is believed to bring bad luck.
 

Visiting takes place from the sixth to the tenth day, when people also go to the temples to pray to the gods for good fortune and health.

On the seventh day of the New Year festival, farmers display their fresh produce. To mark the first harvest of that year, they make a drink from different types of vegetables. It is believed that on this day, human beings were created, so people eat noodles for long life and raw fish for success.

Another family dinner is held on the eighth day and at midnight, it is time to pray to Tian Gong, the god of heaven. On the ninth day, offerings are made to the Jade Emperor.

From the tenth to the twelfth day, friends and relatives invite each other over for feasts. Then, on the 13th day, they must just have simple rice congee and mustard greens, choi sum, to cleanse their digestive systems.

On the 14th day preparations are made for the Lantern Festival, which takes place on the last day of the New Year festival.

This year, Chinese New Year started on 3 February, ushering in the year of the rabbit. The rabbit is the fourth animal in the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac. Like the Western zodiac, characteristics and personality traits are assigned to people born under these signs. It is said that people born in the Year of the Rabbit are articulate, talented and ambitious, are virtuous, reserved and have excellent taste. Rabbit people are admired, trusted and often financially lucky.

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