I don’t usually like being in the midst of a million people, vying for a spot so I can get a glimpse of a passing parade. Yet, I am also torn by the opportunity of capturing a few good photographs and also experiencing everything the city I live in has to offer. The fact that I had never been to a Chinese New Year celebration was begging to bug me so this year Steve and I decided to brave the crowds and am I glad we did. We left early in the aafternoon so we could spend some time in Darling harbour and have a nice meal. It’s a sort of combined birthday, Valentine’s Day and Happy Chinese New Year celebration. We are also celebrating the fact that I have just quit my job to join Steve in his consultancy…
We decide on the floating restaurant….something else we haven’t tried in this wonderful city and settle down for a bit of a splurge on a nice seafood meal in what must surely be one of the best cities & views in the world!!
It’s the Year of the Snakes so guess what…snakes figure quite prominently in this year’s parade. We’ve been standing around for about an hour…but it’s been worth it. We scored ring side seats….except that we are standing…but it’s great to have a an unobstructed view for a change. The noise of clanging symbols, drums and fireworks fill the air as Clover Moore declares open the festivities. Known as the Spring Festival in China it was traditionally a time to remember your ancestors and gather together with your family. A time to cleanse your home, rid it of bad luck and make way for some new luck.
Red features prominently in the parade and in the decorations around us. From what I have read it appears that according to legend in ancient China, Nian a man-eating beast from the mountains, could infiltrate houses silently to prey on humans. The people later learned that Nian was sensitive to loud noises and the colour red, so they scared it away with explosions, fireworks and the liberal use of the color red. So "Guo Nian" actually means "Surviving the Nian". These customs led to the first New Year celebrations…go figure!
We get a real sense of this festival. Many of the items feature large red dragons who envelope dancers. They run into the crowd and people reach out to touch the dragon and grab a piece of the action….as more fireworks explode above us. After about 2 hours of non-stop action the parade comes to an end. A lone cyclist reminds us that it will all be played out again next year…in the Year of the Horse!
“A lot of people, they get all caught up in the New Year's resolution thing and I think it gives them an easy way, later, to say, 'Oh, that was just a New Year's resolution' and not take it seriously. People who really want to make changes can make them any day of the year, whether it be the Jewish New Year, the Chinese New Year or any day that suits them. You've got every day of your life to make changes.” Dr James Wilcox