Reasons to rejoice during the Chinese New Year of the Ox celebrations

I wish all my friends celebrating Lunar New Year “Gong Xi Fa Cai” and “Kung Hei Fat Choi” with lots of happiness and strength for the year of Ox. May the new year bring all the good things in life you truly deserve.

Celebrations in Hong Kong

There will soon be reasons to rejoice in Hong Kong, with the government relaxing restrictions that will allow restaurants to operate till 10pm from the seventh day of the Lunar New Year on 18th February. Apart from other relaxations, the cap on social gathering will be made lenient from two to four. But while the entire week of the New year celebrations will have the existing limitations, people are keeping their spirits high and positive.

The biggest festival for the Chinese community across the world, the CNY celebrations has been reasonably stunted across the world this year, but the Hong Kongers’ spirits stay intact and positive. This year the CNY falls on February 12, and maintaining social distancing norms, the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) have interspersed old traditions with an innovative three week “Fortunes in Hong Kong” CNY campaign in discoverhongkong.com/CNY

People did visit the traditional flower market in Prince Edward in great numbers to buy seasonal flowers, orchid plants, and trees like tangerine, believed to bring in good luck. The decoration of doorways and walls to bring in prosperity and good luck during the joyful festive season, Fai Chun, has been in full swing, adding the festive vibes to the residential and commercial hubs in the city. The CNY will entail visits to some of the revered temples and cemeteries to give offerings to the Gods, and to the ancestors. A thorough spring cleaning of the house is a must, and so is the ‘lycee’ small amounts of money passed on in small red envelops to staff, children as tokens of good luck and festive gifts.

The biggest part of the festivities will clearly remain food with family, even though gatherings will be minimised to immediate family members and smaller groups. A traditional feast is prepared and families eat together to celebrate good health and longevity.

The CNY festivities in Kolkata

My first tryst with the Chinese New Year celebrations was in Kolkata, that has a sizeable Chinese community that has settled there since the 18th century. The community has since thrived and played a major role in the economic growth of the city.

I remember the celebrations of the close-knit community with the lion and dragon groups visiting door-to-door, offering their prayers and wishing the family good luck and good health. People would gather in large numbers to watch and celebrate together.

This year however, the Kolkata-based Indian Chinese Association for Culture, Welfare, and Development, announced that there will be no ‘Lion Dance Display & Cultural Show’ but the Tangra Chinese Food Festival will be held at the Pei May Chinese High School on February 13 and 14, 2021. On February 14, there will be special performances and an acrobatic lion dance.

However, unlike many Indian festivities that did not get a chance to be celebrated amidst stringent lockdown rules, the CNY celebrations have a scope for celebrations, since the COVID-19 cases have come down in India, and the vaccines have started rolling out.

The Year of the Ox

This year should be filled with optimism.

It is believed that people born in the year of the metal Ox, the second sign of the 12-year cycle of animals that makes up the Chinese zodiac, exhibit leadership qualities, are faithful, trustworthy, and hardworking, while they can be moody, judgemental, and stubborn.

Some of the historical figures born in this year are none other than Adolf Hitler, Margaret Thatcher, and Barack Obama, while creative legends who share the sign are Lady Diana, Vincent Van Gogh, and Walt Disney.

So let’s wave goodbye to the old and embrace the new with hope, dreams, and ambition. Wishing you all a Happy Chinese New Year.

Smita is a multi-cultural freelance journalist, writer, and filmmaker based out of London, Hong Kong, and India. Global Indian Stories is her brain-child and she created the platform to help people share their stories, get published, and reach out to their diaspora across the globe.