Sunday, 22 February 2015

£1 Wiggly Worm or Celebrating Chinese New Year in Manchester

Each year millions - possibly billions - of people around the world celebrate Chinese New Year. The purpose of the holiday is to commemorate the beginning of the new Chinese calendar year. As the Chinese calendar is lunisolar, the start of the new year can take place anytime between January 21 and February 20. There is a massive history behind Chinese New Year, for which I will not even begin to attempt to describe - mostly for fear of butchering the details and misrepresenting the actual story behind it! Plus, I've linked the Wikipedia page above, so I'm sure that's a better source than my recreating it!

This year it began on February 19, but for this girl, celebrations kicked off a few days in advance! Sunday, February 15th, to be exact! The RA team in my hall (which I happen to be a member of) organized a celebratory lunch (for which I had no part in planning) at a local restaurant. The earlier date was meant to allow our Chinese residents to participate, without interfering with their own celebrations. We had a great turnout, and got to sample a range of dishes. I tried pretty much everything, except for the chicken feet. But, this was not for lack of trying, more so an uncertainty of how to try them!

The "adult table"
(Photo credit: Yong Kai Jie) 
Some of the dishes we happily consumed
(Photo credit: Yong Kai Jie)
Group shot
(Photo credit: Yong Kai Jie)

Then, the festivities were put on hold for a few days...

Thursday marked the first day of the New Year, which happens to be the Year of the Goat/Sheep/Ram, depending on who you ask! Wanting to partake in the celebration, a few friends and I walked into the city centre to watch the first of four planned light shows. As we walked to St Ann's Square, we took a slight detour and walked through China Town.

(Photo credit: MaCris Gutierrez Cottle)
When we arrived at the Square, the wall of the church was covered in a depiction of a goat/sheep/ram. The light show was pretty neat. I'm not entirely sure what the storyline was, but it was interesting to watch it unfold. When the initial show finished, some of the crowd began to disperse. As we debated what to do, another video (?) began...this time a very obvious "travel China" advertisement. Those who had remained in the first place seemed to stay for the first few minutes of 'phase two,' until the vast majority of us became confused and left! It was at this point that we discovered the Second Cup!

Unfortunately, the particular camera I brought does not take the quality of
pictures I would have liked to snap. But...I'm sure you get the gist of it!
(Photo credit: MaCris Gutierrez Cottle)
(Photo credit: MaCris Gutierrez Cottle)

The last of my celebratory participation came today, on the final day of Manchester's events. A group of us gathered (amongst what I'm fairly certain was every other resident of Manchester and their 800 children*) in St. Albert's Square to watch the parade. But here's the thing, the weather forecast stated light rain, which given that I've lived in Manchester for several months, and grew up on the east coast of Canada, I should have known better than to discount the possibility of anything other than that. Light rain quickly transitioned into a mix of snow (SNOW!!!) and rain of varying degrees. At first, I was pretty pumped with this mixture of precipitation, but that faded soon after. Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon, but it got mighty cold being so damp and standing outside in the wind for a few hours. Luckily, I'm not made of sugar, so I'm fully intact and warming up as I speak...errr...write!

Before it really began to rain...
(Photo credit: Samah Haj Ibrahim)
Mid-rain/snow and up a few new group members!
(Photo credit: Samah Haj Ibrahim)
Anyway, the parade was fun! I enjoyed the collective spectator dance that took place as we anticipated the parade will trying to stay warm! However, I'm still a little confused as to where the bagpipes** were...

There are still fireworks tonight, but I think I'm going to pass. The few activities I participated in made for a pretty decent first Chinese New Year!

To all my Chinese friends and readers - Happy New Year!!

-the Orange Canadian

*amount of children per family may not be accurately reflected in this number.
**In Nova Scotia, it's not a parade without bagpipes. I realize that a Chinese New Year celebration would not involve the presence of bagpipes...even if they are awesome. 

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