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Painting the town Chinese Red

As Chinese communities around the world prepare for the Dragon New Year, we’re feeling pretty excited to have a front seat to all the action. The streets are heaving with people shopping for new clothes, buying up special foods at the market and painting their doors with a fresh coat of lucky red.

The mood in town is also hotting up as kids delight in scaring passers-by with throw down firecrackers. People are scurrying past with bouquets of lucky bamboo, red camelias and pussy willow branches dyed red.

Considering how highly esteemed the colour red is in Chinese tradition, it seems only fitting to capture the New Year preparations suffused with their favourite hues of richness and wealth.

The main action is tomorrow night as families gather at home for a huge meal, much like our Christmas; they also watch the countdown celebrations on TV and head out to light some fireworks after eating their midnight dumplings.

Then the fun continues on the 23rd of January, which marks the first day of the year and the beginning of the Spring Festival; signifying the end of Winter and the start of the most important festival of the Chinese Year.

Almost every day for 15 days, culminating in the Lantern Festival, people celebrate in special ways according to each day.

According to tales and legends, the beginning of Chinese New Year started with the fight against a mythical beast called Nian. The beast thought it was cool to eat all the livestock, crops and children on the first day of each luna year, so villagers started to try and protect themselves by putting out food in front of their doors. Apparently these tasty food offerings worked a treat, and consequently Nian stopped his tirade and peace prevailed.

One year, while the beast was still reaping havoc, people saw that Nian was scared away by a child wearing red, so they assumed he was afraid of the colour. Since then villagers have hung red lanterns and scrolls outside their homes and used red firecrackers to frighten Nian away.

As we prepare to frighten our own devils away it’s hard not to get caught up in the buzz. Let’s see what you’ve got for us in the year 4710 Mr Dragon!


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