Welcoming the rabbit

Updated: 2011-01-28 13:20

(China Daily European Weekly)

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Welcoming the rabbit

Our far-flung writers show how the New Year is celebrated in Australia, India, Malaysia, Australia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam.


Rabbit hops in with a bang Down Under

By Karl Wilson

The Year of the Rabbit will be welcomed in Australia with a bang and three weeks of celebrations right around Australia. Unlike Christmas which has become a commercial event in this country, Chinese New Year has been growing over the years, according to Albert Yen, president of the Sydney See Yup Society, the country's oldest Chinese organization that dates back to the 1850s.

"Chinese New Year is still very important to Chinese whether they were born here or moved here from China," he says. "I can't say how many people come to Sydney's Chinatown or Little Bourke Street in Melbourne, but over the years we have noticed that more and more people are taking part in the celebrations. Maybe more Chinese are coming to Australia."

This year, he says, celebrations in Sydney will be "bigger and better" than last year with lion dances, fireworks, cultural events, dragon boat races, and of course, the food. In Melbourne, a giant lion with more than 200 people will be paraded through the streets.

"For Chinese people, the new year celebrations are still very important, even for young people, for it reminds them of their heritage. For the non-Chinese, it is a bridge toward better understanding between the two cultures."

In Sydney and Melbourne, where the largest communities of Chinese live, celebrations start with lion dances and parades in traditional dress. Celebrations usually last for most of February with events marked for every day.

Thomas Chen, who owns a convenience store in Sydney's north, was six when his parents migrated to Australia from Hong Kong. At 36, he sees himself as an Australian and his children are Australian but he values his Chinese heritage.

"Yes, Chinese New Year is still a very special occasion in our household and I want my children to appreciate it as well and to be proud of their Chinese roots."

Karl Wilson is a Sydney-based writer for China Daily Asia Weekly.

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