Chinese New Year once again arrived in Birmingham this year with a bang. Celebrated from Friday 8thFebruary - Sunday 10thFebruary, the free festivities were in full flow and were throughly enjoyed by everyone, no matter what background. The events took place at St. Phillip’s Cathedral, Bullring, The Arcadian and Chinatown, with floods of people relishing the spectacular displays.
As the Chinese zodiac moves in a 12 year cycle, 2019 happens to be the year of the pig. We are set for an enjoyable year, as within Chinese culture pigs are the symbol of fun, fortune and wealth. They say that people born under the sign of the pig tend to be happy, easygoing, honest, trusting and sincere. As well as the yearly animal, each year is assigned with one of the five elements. This year is the year of the Earth Pig, an element that has not been associated with the pig since 1959.
Birmingham’s celebration of China’s most important holiday was one of the biggest celebrations yet. Over 30,000 people attended, having a fun and relaxing time in true Pig spirit. The tasty aromas of authentic Chinese street food repleted the roadways, and the traditional Chinese music and dancing was an astonishing spectacle to behold.
Lion and Dragon dancers paraded around the Bullring, as well as mesmerising performances on the main stage from Shaolin warriors, plus a groovy hip-hop dance group to deliver some style. In typical Chinese fashion, Karaoke was available at a number of different spots so you could really let out your inner Teresa Teng. There was something for all ages by way of special activities and workshops for the younger generation – a fantastic way of providing a modest insight into such a fascinating culture.
There are nearly 200,000 Chinese people living in the UK. Birmingham, being one of the most culturally diverse cities in England, has an astonishingly large Chinese population, so it is essential that Chinese New Year is done the right way. Chinese students studying at one of Birmingham’s universities account for a large portion of this Chinese contingent, therefore the celebrations are a way of making them feel at home, being so far away from their families and friends during such a special time.
The Chinese culture is one of passion and excitement, and is deeply rooted in the ways of old. In England a lot of people are unfamiliar with Chinese culture. We don’t really get taught about it at school, and it doesn’t often engulf our social media timelines, therefore celebrating alongside 中国人(Chinese people) is a superb way of understanding their captivating lives.
Overall the 2019 Chinese New Year celebrations were a resounding success. They broke the majority of the records set by the previous year, and brought about a resounding Chinese essence to the heart of Birmingham, something that will last in the memory forever.