Thousands of people roam around the chaotic streets of Central London on Sunday the 29th, as celebrations of the Chinese New Year emerge. The streets become narrow and suddenly the familiar claustrophobic feeling of China hits in. But this time is all part of the show. Locals, visitors and tourists come together for this foreign celebration.
Celebrations unfolded early on Sunday morning with a rowdy crowd emerging out of Charing Cross station towards Trafalgar Square where Chinese presenters welcomed the audience to what followed to be a unique festivity.
Around Trafalgar Square, the audience wandered and explored the different stalls set up. Some sold Chinese lanterns and decorations while other stalls offered information packs about the perfect holiday in China. Either way the event had it all, showcasing the Chinese culture in London to the max.
Lion and dragon dance parades, live acrobatic shows, kung fu and Chinese folk songs were a few of the acts that preceded before the biggest celebration in China town. It is no other than the food fest. Crowds joined the parade from Trafalgar square to China town, even though London weather was not in our favour.
Based on the epitome of fidelity and punctuality, the year of the Rooster hopes to bring good fortune. So, in celebration of the Chinese New Year and for good luck, I decided to share some of my discoveries during my stay about the Chinese culture and its own unique superstitions:
#1 The colour Red brings good fortune.
That is why the Chinese red hang paper-cut decorations or red lanterns outside their doorstep; essentially to drive off bad luck.
#2 The Chinese do not sweep on the day of New Year.
It is believed that if you sweep during that day then you will eventually sweep away all your fortune. Hence all the sweeping is done the previous day.
#3 Eight is a very lucky number.
8 sounds similar to the word for fortune and wealth (八- bā/发- fā). If you ever get the chance to go to Macau or enter any Chinese casino, you will find that the number 8 is everywhere. Also do you remember the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony began on the 08/08/08 at 8:08pm? Well, no coincidence there.
As far as good luck goes, I was lucky enough to live in an apartment on the 8th floor. Thank you Hutong School for that!
#3A Four is an unlucky number.
Another trick with words sounding alike. Whilst living in China I discovered from the very first days that the number 4 was peculiarly replaced in elevators or skipped completely. Instead of going to the 4th floor, you are going to 3A. Similarly instead of entering the 14th floor, you enter 13A. This is simply because the number 4 sounds similar to the Chinese word for death (四 – sì/ 死 – sǐ).
#5 Never place your chopsticks into your rice straight down (like this -||-).
Speaking from first hand experience, do not do it! Luckily as a la wài 啦外 (foreigner) I was excused. The chopsticks facing straight down resemble the incense that family members burn to mourn a dead relative.
Now you know what to avoid and what will bring you luck this year. Happy Chinese New Year everyone!
新年快乐 - Xīnnián kuàilè (New Year Happiness)