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Welcome to the Year of the Pig: Chinese people around the world celebrate Lunar New Year

As the clock struck midnight, millions of Chinese people around the world ushered in the Lunar New Year, marking the start of the Year of the Pig.

Fireworks exploded into the sky and lion and dragon dance troupes broke out in dance as people gathered with their families for banquets and gave out red packets of pocket money to youngsters. 

The Spring Festival is not celebrated just in mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong – it’s also one of the most revered holidays across countries with large Chinese populations in Asia, such as Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Korea. 

Fireworks explode behind the Sydney Opera House as it glows red as part of celebrations for Chinese Lunar New Year on Monday. Millions of Chinese people around the world ushered in the Lunar New Year last night

A lion dance troupe performs among visitors  during Lunar New Year festivities in Manila's Chinatown in the Philippines

A lion dance troupe performs among visitors during Lunar New Year festivities in Manila’s Chinatown in the Philippines

A man carrying a child walks by Chinese Lunar New Year decorations at a market in Yantai in east China's Shandong province 

A man carrying a child walks by Chinese Lunar New Year decorations at a market in Yantai in east China’s Shandong province 

The eve of the Chinese new year  is celebrated at the London Eye with Lion Dancers and a colour change to the wheel itself

The eve of the Chinese new year is celebrated at the London Eye with Lion Dancers and a colour change to the wheel itself

Fireworks explode during the 2019 China Central Television (CCTV) Spring Festival Gala on Chinese New Year's Eve last night

Fireworks explode during the 2019 China Central Television (CCTV) Spring Festival Gala on Chinese New Year’s Eve last night

Oink oink! Children getting ready to perform looks at a squealing teacup pig in Manila's Chinatown. The Year of the Pig is the last Chinese zodiac sign in the 12-year cycle, succeeding the Year of the Dog and preceding the Year of the Rat

Oink oink! Children getting ready to perform looks at a squealing teacup pig in Manila’s Chinatown. The Year of the Pig is the last Chinese zodiac sign in the 12-year cycle, succeeding the Year of the Dog and preceding the Year of the Rat

Elsewhere around the world in countries such as Australia, Japan, Cambodia, Mexico and the United States, iconic buildings were lit up in red at night to celebrate the most important festival in Chinese culture. 

In Sydney, a total of 764 people shared in the largest ever yum cha meal and ate more than 4000 dumplings in Darling Harbour today, setting a new Guinness World Record.

In Beijing, performers in traditional Qing dynasty robes strummed zithers for a re-enactment at sunrise of a sacrificial ceremony at the Chinese capital’s Temple of Earth park.

An actor portraying an emperor bowed before an altar as dozens of people in ceremonial dress behind him.

Acrobats and drummers also performed. Vendors sold toys branded with the British cartoon character Peppa Pig, which is enjoying a surge of popularity for the Year of the Pig. 

A performer blows fire during Chinese New Year celebrations in Chinatown, Binondo, Manila, Philippines

A performer blows fire during Chinese New Year celebrations in Chinatown, Binondo, Manila, Philippines

Tokyo Tower is illuminated in red, symbolising good fortune and happiness, to celebrate the Chinese New Year in Japan

Tokyo Tower is illuminated in red, symbolising good fortune and happiness, to celebrate the Chinese New Year in Japan

A lion dancer performs during Chinese New Year celebrations in Chinatown in Yangon, Myanmar on Tuesday

A lion dancer performs during Chinese New Year celebrations in Chinatown in Yangon, Myanmar on Tuesday

People buy Chinese New Year decorations for luck and fortune at a street in Hong Kong

People buy Chinese New Year decorations for luck and fortune at a street in Hong Kong

Year of the Pig: Colored lanterns featuring a pig are illuminated during a lantern show at a scenic area in Xi'an, Shaanxi

Year of the Pig: Colored lanterns featuring a pig are illuminated during a lantern show at a scenic area in Xi’an, Shaanxi

People attend the Kuan Yin temple on the eve of Chinese New Year in Klang outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

People attend the Kuan Yin temple on the eve of Chinese New Year in Klang outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

In Malaysia, where 60 per cent of the population is Muslim, and a quarter ethnic Chinese, some shopping centres chose not to display pig decorations, while some shops kept them inside. 

Next door in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country which also has a sizeable ethnic Chinese population, the Lunar New Year is a public holiday. 

The Year of the Pig is the last Chinese zodiac sign in the 12-year cycle, succeeding the Year of the Dog and preceding the Year of the Rat. 

Pigs symbolise good fortune and wealth in Chinese culture and this year’s holiday brings a proliferation of porcine merchandise, greetings and decorations.  

Cisitors gather under a canopy of red lanterns at a temple in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Monday

Cisitors gather under a canopy of red lanterns at a temple in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Monday

Muslim women take a selfie at a shop selling Lunar New Year decorations in the Chinatown area of Jakarta, Indonesia

Muslim women take a selfie at a shop selling Lunar New Year decorations in the Chinatown area of Jakarta, Indonesia

Dancers perform a dragon dance next to revelers to mark the  Lunar New Year in the Chinatown in Manila, Philippines

Dancers perform a dragon dance next to revelers to mark the Lunar New Year in the Chinatown in Manila, Philippines

Fireworks light up the sky during Chinese New Year celebrations at the Pak Pie Hut Cou temple in North Sumatra, Indonesia

Fireworks light up the sky during Chinese New Year celebrations at the Pak Pie Hut Cou temple in North Sumatra, Indonesia

Visitors taking photos with a pig figurine at a park ahead of the Year of the Pig in Beijing on February 2

Visitors taking photos with a pig figurine at a park ahead of the Year of the Pig in Beijing on February 2

Last night, on the festival’s eve, people gathered for reunion dinners in China as they watch the Spring Festival Gala aired by state broadcaster CCTV – the most prominent annual variety show with almost 800 million viewers. 

The four-hour-long show features the most popular actors, singers, dancers, comedians and magicians in the country and has been an annual tradition in China since its first edition in 1983.  

At homes, Lunar New Year celebrations come in various forms. 

Chinese people wear red jackets and jumpers to the streets, buy red lanterns and paper-cuttings and write couplets to decorate their homes and even prepare red steamed buns to be eaten during family dinners. 

Besides steamed buns, the dinner menu is carefully curated for luck. Fish is cooked whole as the Chinese word for it shares a homophone with surplus and excess.  

Men perform a dragon dance ahead of Chinese Lunar New Year during the a ceremony in Solo, Central Java province

Men perform a dragon dance ahead of Chinese Lunar New Year during the a ceremony in Solo, Central Java province

A man handles red lanterns at a shop in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Millions of people around the world ushered in the new year

A man handles red lanterns at a shop in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Millions of people around the world ushered in the new year

Children in costumes wait to perform during an event to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year in Nanjing, Jiangsu, China

Children in costumes wait to perform during an event to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year in Nanjing, Jiangsu, China

People carry a vessel containing Chinese New Year's cakes during a ceremony in Solo, Central Java province, Indonesia

People carry a vessel containing Chinese New Year’s cakes during a ceremony in Solo, Central Java province, Indonesia

People shop for Chinese Lunar New Year decorations at a market in Yantai in east China's Shandong province

People shop for Chinese Lunar New Year decorations at a market in Yantai in east China’s Shandong province

Dumplings are made as they look like gold ingots, and sweet glutinous rice balls symbolises unity and happiness. 

Most countries that observe Chinese New Year offer three to seven days of public holidays. However, celebrations don’t end until the 15th day of the first lunar month, also known as the Lantern Festival.  

The holiday also marks the busiest time on Chinese roads as millions of people leave cities to go back to their rural homes – then return to work afterwards. 

The travel rush, also known as ‘chun yun’ in Chinese, sees hundreds of millions of people cram into trains, buses, planes and boats, making it the world’s largest annual human migration.

Nearly three billion trips are expected to be completed between Jan 21 and March 1 this year, an increase of 0.6 per cent from last year, according to China Daily.  

Solanum mammosum, symbolising fortune and gold, are on sale at a New Year market in Hong Kong's Victoria Park

Solanum mammosum, symbolising fortune and gold, are on sale at a New Year market in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park

Diners take part in the largest yum cha meal in Sydney, Australia. More than 4,000 dumplings were prepared for the challenge

Diners take part in the largest yum cha meal in Sydney, Australia. More than 4,000 dumplings were prepared for the challenge

People perform with a dragon as they celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year in downtown Lviv, Ukraine

People perform with a dragon as they celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year in downtown Lviv, Ukraine

A child sits on a man's shoulder as people take part in celebrations for Chinese Lunar New Year in Yangon, Myanmar

A child sits on a man’s shoulder as people take part in celebrations for Chinese Lunar New Year in Yangon, Myanmar

Hundreds of people observe a dragon dance during the start of the Chinese New Year in Mexico City's Chinatown

Hundreds of people observe a dragon dance during the start of the Chinese New Year in Mexico City’s Chinatown

Road trips via private cars and long-distance buses remain the most common form of transport for most Chinese, with more than 2.46 billion people hitting the road during the period, according to CGTN. 

China’s railway network will handle an anticipated 413 million passengers, an eight per cent jump from last year, while about 73 million people will be travelling by air, resulting in a 12 per cent hike.

Boats and ferries will handle about 43 million people – about the same as last year, the report added. 

‘Nearly three billion trips during the 40 days will be a big test for the country’s transportation departments,’ said Liu Xiaoming, an official with the Ministry of Transportation. 

Streets and busy thoroughfares were uncharacteristically empty in Beijing on Monday, with many shops and restaurants closed until next week. 

Hundreds of people observe a lion dance during the start of the Chinese New Year celebrations In Mexico City

Hundreds of people observe a lion dance during the start of the Chinese New Year celebrations In Mexico City

In Sydney, a total of 764 people shared in the largest ever yum cha meal and ate more than 4000 dumplings in Darling Harbour today, setting a new Guinness World Record

In Sydney, a total of 764 people shared in the largest ever yum cha meal and ate more than 4000 dumplings in Darling Harbour today, setting a new Guinness World Record

People in traditional outfits arrive at a Chinese temple to pray on the first day of the Lunar New Year in Denpasar, Indonesia

People in traditional outfits arrive at a Chinese temple to pray on the first day of the Lunar New Year in Denpasar, Indonesia

Crowds pray for good fortune at Longhua temple in Shanghai to mark the start of Lunar New Year late on Tuesday

Crowds pray for good fortune at Longhua temple in Shanghai to mark the start of Lunar New Year late on Tuesday

A fire-eater performs during Chinese New Year celebrations held at Manila's Chinatown, Binondo, Manila, Philippines

A fire-eater performs during Chinese New Year celebrations held at Manila’s Chinatown, Binondo, Manila, Philippines

A fireworks display during the Chinese New Year eve celebrations at the Pak Pie Hut Cou temple in Medan, North Sumatra

A fireworks display during the Chinese New Year eve celebrations at the Pak Pie Hut Cou temple in Medan, North Sumatra

People pray in a Chinese temple during Lunar New Year celebrations in Bangkok, Thailand

People pray in a Chinese temple during Lunar New Year celebrations in Bangkok, Thailand

Divers perform an underwater lion dance ahead of the Chinese New Year at Aquaria KLCC underwater park in Kuala Lumpur

Divers perform an underwater lion dance ahead of the Chinese New Year at Aquaria KLCC underwater park in Kuala Lumpur

Travelers wait for their trains at a railway station in Hangzhou in east China's Zhejiang province on Jan 28 ahead of the Lunar New Year. China's railway network will handle an anticipated 413 million passengers, an eight per cent jump from last year

Travelers wait for their trains at a railway station in Hangzhou in east China’s Zhejiang province on Jan 28 ahead of the Lunar New Year. China’s railway network will handle an anticipated 413 million passengers, an eight per cent jump from last year

People visit illuminated colored lanterns featuring a dragon and gold fish during the Xi'an city wall lantern show in Shaanxi

People visit illuminated colored lanterns featuring a dragon and gold fish during the Xi’an city wall lantern show in Shaanxi

A woman walks past a store displaying traditional Chinese decorations during Lunar New Year celebrations in Bangkok

A woman walks past a store displaying traditional Chinese decorations during Lunar New Year celebrations in Bangkok

Red lanterns are lit up to welcome the Chinese New Year in Taipei, Taiwan ahead of the Year of the Pig

Red lanterns are lit up to welcome the Chinese New Year in Taipei, Taiwan ahead of the Year of the Pig

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