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26 January 2017
Myanmar prepares for celebrations of the Chinese New Year
Myanmar might not be the first place which comes to mind in regards to the Chinese New Year celebrations. However, the newly emerged tourism hotspot shouldn’t be underestimated as it can be fun and peaceful at the same time.
YANGON, 26 January 2017. The former capital of Myanmar, the biggest and the most important city in the country has been a host to multiple cultures peacefully coexisting with each other for generations. Downtown Yangon has a Buddhist pagoda, Baptist church and a mosque within a rock throw away from each other. Venture further west and after walking through Indian Quarter you will arrive to Chinatown – home of biggest Chinese community in Myanmar.
Chinese New Year, known in modern Chinese as the “Spring Festival” is an important Chinese festival celebrated at the turn of the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar. Celebrations traditionally run from the evening preceding the first day, to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first calendar month. The first day of the New Year falls on the new moon between 21 January and 20 February. In 2017, the first day of the Chinese New Year is on Saturday, 28 January, initiating another year of the rooster.
The New Year festival is centuries old and gains significance because of several myths and traditions. Traditionally, the festival was a time to honor deities as well as ancestors. Often, the evening preceding Chinese New Year’s Day is an occasion for Chinese families to gather for the annual reunion dinner. It is also traditional for every family to thoroughly cleanse the house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for good incoming luck. Windows and doors will be decorated with red color paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of “good fortune” or “happiness”, “wealth”, and “longevity”. Other activities include lighting firecrackers and giving money in red paper envelopes.
“We visited Yangon during last year’s Chinese New Year celebrations. After observing festivities around famous for its food and atmosphere 19th street in Yangon, we were invited by one family to join the New Year’s dinner in their home. It’s been an unforgettable experience and we have tears in our eyes at a memory of it” – said a couple of tourists from Belgium.
In Yangon’s Chinatown red couplets and red lanterns are displayed on the door frames and light up the atmosphere. In stores products of traditional Chinese style have started to lead fashion trend. Buy yourself a Chinese-style coat, get your kids tiger-head hats and shoes, and decorate your home with some beautiful red Chinese knots, then you will have an authentic Chinese-style Spring Festival.
The large Chinese community in Yangon celebrates the special day with big dragon dances and temple festivals in Yangon China Town. Apart from the dances of the 15m-long dragons, which snake through the streets elegantly thanks to the many-footed crew, there is also dragon acrobatics: Two acrobats in ONE dragon costume perform a dance over a course of high poles to the beating drums until they take the lucky ribbon, tied to one of the poles.
“What makes celebrations in Myanmar unique and different is a relatively small-scale and low key festivities. If you are looking for grandeur it’s not your place. If you, however, prefer old-style, traditional, family-oriented holidays look no further and hop on the plane to Myanmar now.” – said Marek Lenarcik – an expat tourism expert living in Myanmar since 2011.
A Lion Dance competition will be held on Sint Oo Tan Road in China Town in Yangon on Sunday 29 and Monday 30 January 2017. The competition starts from 7:00 PM and usually lasts a few hours.
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