The Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, is an enormous celebration for Chinese people. The New Year celebrations span 15 days from the date of the first full moon in a calendar year, and because it follows the lunar cycle, the New Year date is always changing. Chinese New Year is one of the biggest events in New Zealand. It’s partly a reflection of a growing cosmopolitan population, but the Chinese-New Zealand community has long been an important part of New Zealand. Celebrated between late January and mid-February, depending on the Chinese calendar, the Lunar Year also referred to as Chinese Spring Festival, is a colourful occasion filled with family traditions, good food, luck and hopes for the future. How to celebrate Chinese New Year 2020 in New Zealand?
When is the Chinese New Year?
The Chinese New Year, which is celebrated in many parts of New Zealand, usually falls somewhere between 21st January and 20th February each year.
In 2020 the 12 year Chinese zodiac falls on the ear of the . And the Chinese New Year 2020 starts from January 25.
The Year of the Rat occupies the last (12th) position in the Chinese Zodiac. In the year of the Rat we can expect mixed energies although there should be good news on the horizon with world events and hopefully a more calming influence in Middle Eastern countries with huge leaps forward in relationships worldwide.
If your child is born after January 25 this year, according to the Chinese Zodiac calendar, they will be an Earth Rat. Traits of someone born under this sign include:
- wonderful personality
- social butterflies
Auckland’s Chinese New Year 2020 Festival and Market Day
Every year in one of New Zealand’s largest and most diverse cities, Auckland hosts an annual Chinese New Year Festival and Market Day which usually starts a few days before the date of the celebration itself.
This fantastic event started over 30 years ago and is still growing today with over 200 stalls of sumptuous Chinese delicacies and, cuisine, traditional fine arts and crafts, as well as performances such as the famous lion dance.
If you’re in Auckland at this time of the year, do yourself a favor and head over to the festival – you will love it!
Explore the Auckland Lantern Festival
In Auckland, the Chinese Community Centre, Inc. has been organising an annual Chinese New Year celebration for almost 30 years. The vibrant event has rapidly grown in popularity, and has now become a main feature in the Auckland summer events calendar, attracting more than 30,000 tourists each year. The Auckland Lantern Festival is another enchanting event that celebrates Chinese culture.
- Lantern Festival and fireworks
- Street full of food stalls
- Music and dance performances
- Lantern making demonstrations
- Martial arts and cultural work shops
- Getting there: You can pick up your car rental at Auckland Airport and drive to the city from there. Headnorth-west on George Bolt Memorial Drive towards Manu Tapu Drive. Merge onto Highway 20 and take the exit to the city.
Christchurch Lantern Festival 2020
In the peaceful city of Christchurch, several events are held during Chinese New Year with one of them being the Chinese Lantern Festival on the weekends of the celebration.
Lantern festivals were traditionally celebrated on the 15th day of the lunar month when the new year passes. The festival is widely acknowledged to originate from the belief that ghostly spirits can be seen under the light of the full moon.
Ancient Chinese people believed that the lanterns allowed them to spot these spirits during the festival.
How is the Chinese New Year celebrated?
Just like special days in the Western calendar, the Chinese New Year is celebrated with traditional decorations, food, costumes and rituals. Many of these traditions stem from the Chinese legend about a man-eating beast.
Apparently the beast was sensitive to the colour red and was easily scared by loud noises. As such, explosions, fireworks and red garments became the traditional method of keeping it away. These customs formed the first New Year celebrations, and in traditional Chinese the phrase ‘to celebrate the New Year’, literally means ‘the passing of the nian beast’.
In China, the first 7 days of the New Year celebrations are observed as public holidays, and other countries with large Chinese populations have also put a day or two aside. Chinese people living in western countries usually celebrate the New Year amongst their own Chinese community.
Check out Wellington’s annual celebrations
Planning to be in New Zealand’s capital city for Chinese (or Lunar) New Year? Celebrate Wellington Chinese New Year in style with their annual Chinese New Year Festival celebrations. Organised by the Asian Events Trust, the event has been going strong for over 12 years, completing a full animal cycle.
Where to stay? Wellington boasts an array of many places to stay. Pick accommodation close to the city centre to be close to the festivities.
- Festival Day
- Football game
- Street parade
- Cultural entertainment
Getting there: For an unforgettable road trip, you can fly into Auckland and road trip down the North Island to Wellington. Follow SH 1, SH 1B and SH 1 to Pirarere. Take Old Taupo Road and SH 32 to SH 1 in Wellington.
Experience the Chinese New Year under the stars at Lake Tekapo
Only three hours’ drive from Christchurch via rental car, experience Chinese New Year under the stars at Lake Tekapo, in the South Island, with Earth and Sky hosting tours. as well as the the small privately run Geraldine Observatory accepting star gazing bookings. It is believed that Jupiter shines bright during the Chinese New Year and is a very auspicious planet for the Chinese.
Where to stay? There are many resorts to stay at in Lake Tekapo. It is recommended to stay near the lake itself to enjoy it to the fullest.
- Celebrate under the stars
- Check out Geraldine Observatory
- Celebrate with family and friends by the lake
- Relax and unwind
Getting there: Fly into Christchurch and drive south to Lake Tekapo or alternatively you can fly into Queenstown and drive north. Take Memorial Avenue to SH 1 in Burnside. Follow SH 1 to State Highway 79 in Rangitata. Follow State Highway 79 to State Highway 8 in Fairlie. Turn right onto State Highway 8.
New Year’s Eve
On the eve of the New Year, many Chinese travel home to China to enjoy a reunion dinner with their family. Reunion dinners are usually held in the home of the most senior family member, and involve a huge feast of foods. Some Chinese families set a place for ancestors who have passed away, as a way of acknowledging their presence and showing respect for the foundations they laid in the family. Just like the Western Christmas, many foods are seen as traditional for the celebration, but over time other dishes have been introduced to the table.
Traditional reunion dinner foods include:
- Chicken and fish.
- Seafood such as prawns and oysters – thought to bring liveliness and happiness.
- Buddha’s Delight – an elaborate vegetarian dish comprising of 18 ingredients.
- Dumplings – which are thought to resemble ancient gold ingots.
- Sunflower, pumpkin or melon seeds.
- Turnip or Taro Cakes.
- Lollies – thought to bring the eater a ‘sweet’ year.
Married couples and elderly family members often give ‘red packets’ to younger family at their reunion dinner. The red packets always contain money in even numbers to reflect good luck and honour. Traditionally firecrackers were let off at the stroke of midnight, however many countries have now banned this practice for safety reasons, and instead host public fireworks displays at various times throughout the festival.
Chinese New Year 2020 stargazing
Stargazing and star lore has always been an important observation for Chinese New Year celebrations. Since ancient times, the Eastern sky is observed during the night when the moon is in full shape.
Ancient Chinese astronomers studied and observed Jupiter’s orbit, finding out that it took the planet roughly 12 years to complete a cycle. This discovery was the foundation of the Chinese Zodiac, with each of the 12 years being associated with a different animal.
At the South Island’s Lake Tekapo, tourists can head over to famous stargazing spots to experience Chinese New Year in a unique way. The ancient Chinese believed that Jupiter shines the brightest during Chinese New Year which is seen as an auspicious period for humans.