Spring festival 2010 – Year of the Metal Tiger

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This coming Sunday marks Chinese New Year, or spring festival for 2010, which will last for 15 days until the next full moon arrives and the Lantern Festival begins. In addition to all the celebrations, fire-works, dancing dragons and delicious food, every Chinese person will age by one year, in what is the world’s biggest (and possibly most unknown) birthday party.

My current town of Box Hill has a huge Chinese population – which I have mentioned numerous times before as being one of the main reasons we chose to live there. Some of the main streets will be closed and the town centre promises to be full of interesting things to explore. While there will be masses of people, I expect copious amounts of fireworks, dragons and food – and basically cant wait to get up there and to take some photos.

Come midnight, the noise will be extreme as the locals make every effort to scare away the evil spirits and herald in the coming of the year of the Tiger – which in fact happens to be my year.

This year actually happens to be the year of the Metal Tiger – because while each year there is a different animal sign, there is also a cycle of 5 elements, each lasting for two years – those being fire, earth, metal, water and wood. Metal Tiger is a positive sign for good luck with money – and damned if I am not hoping something comes from that! It is also a symbol for power and authority, yet inflexibility and destruction.

Sometimes when I read about these festivals, and their associated celebrations – all very precise and practiced, I cannot help but feel that my own culture is lacking. Sure, we celebrate Christmas and Easter and the like, yet for most of us it’s just about giving and receiving presents, while eating a big meal with our families. What particularly amuses me about our own holiday ‘festivals’ is that most of us who celebrate them are not in fact religious in the least?

The Chinese festivals in particular are elaborate and interesting and reflect on a history which stretches back into the ancient. While it is of course not my own culture, I often feel envious, and when I walk by stalls decked with offerings and symbolic meanings, I can’t help but feel like an outsider – a feeling that I hate.

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