Chinese New Year is a major celebration in many parts of Asia where people with Chinese ancestry live. But its celebration is also spreading in Australia, where a sizable Chinese and Asian population now exists. Chinese New Year is not a public holiday in Australia, but it is becoming more widely observed.
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The date of Chinese New Year is generally in late January or early February. It is also known as the Spring Festival, based on the timing of the seasons in the Northern Hemisphere. In Australia, the Chinese New Year Spring Festival falls in mid-to-late summer. Chinese New Year is actually celebrated for 15 consecutive days, but the first three days are most important.
Each Chinese New Year is designated as “the year of“ one of the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac, which animal is supposed to characterise that year and all those born in it.
Chinese New Year is the most important annually recurring festival for people of Chinese ancestry all over the world. It has been celebrated for over 1,000 years – possibly much longer, and the traditions involved are deeply ingrained in Chinese culture. For many, it is also a religious holiday, full of prayers, offerings, and other acts of devotion.
Australia’s Chinese and Asian communities burst forth to celebrate it in a grand manner in major cities across the country. Celebrations are especially prominent in the “China-town” locations of each city. Shopping centres are also increasingly marking the season with decorations and sales,
In Melbourne, there is a 10-day celebration full of dragon dances, Chinese traditional music and more. The dragon parade is centred at Queensbridge Square. In Sydney, the celebrations go on for 17 days and are attended by over a million people. It features lion dances, firecrackers, food fairs, karaoke, a dragon boat race, and a “Korean aerial theatre”.
There are additional celebrations in Hobart, Adelaide, Darwin, Perth, Brisbane, and elsewhere where significant numbers of Chinese and Asian Australians reside.