It’s the year of the Rooster, but I’m a Rat

I was aCoverbout 20 when I encountered Chinese New Year for the first time. We were holidaying in Hong Kong, which was British in those days and went across the border to The People’s Republic of China.

It was amazing. Bicycles were loaded up with decorations. Everyone was getting readily for New Year. I wished that I was going to be in China for a while longer. I would have loved to have seen it.

During New Year, red is everywhere. It is the colour of luck and happiness. Children receive money wrapped in red paper. Adult exchange poems written on red paper. The Chinese New Year is also an opportunity to remember ancestors, and to wish peace and happiness to friends and family. The lunar new year begins on Saturday 28 January. 2017 is the year of the Red Fire Rooster.

Are you a Rat, a Rooster or one of the other animals? Find out!

The holiday ends with the Festival of Lanterns. In Christchurch, The Lantern Festival will be held on 17-19 February. The best time to see the lanterns is after dark, but if you can’t get there at night, a day time visit is worth while. At night, the lanterns are bright colours in a dark park. During the day, the lanterns are not lit, but are colourful reds and yellows in a green park.

CoverIf you are interested in learning Mandarin and Cantonese Chinese, We have a collection of books and language courses to suit all levels. We also have Mango Languages. This is an online learning system that will help you learn many languages. It also has lessons for learning English for speakers of Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean and Japanese speakers. Use at a library or enter your library card & password / PIN.

CINCH is our Community Information Christchurch database. It has a list of a range of religious, arts and cultural organizations that meet the needs of the Chinese community.

For more information about the Lunar New year:

Celebrate Chinese New Year at Christchurch City Libraries

Our 2016 Year of the Monkey celebrations at Christchurch City Libraries are underway! There are fun activities for the Chinese New Year, including:

Year of the monkey

  • Library scavenger hunt – quizzes, Chinese Zodiac Challenge and lantern riddles: simple quizzes to get to know your library, make a quest on the Chinese Zodiac, solve the Chinese lantern riddles to get your brain exercised.
  • Chinese New Year Colouring in: great for adults and kids.

  • A display on researching Chinese family history in New Zealand – interesting historical photos, articles from family history databases, research done by library family history expert – looking into the life of early Chinese settlers in New Zealand.
  • Bilingual storytelling: bilingual stories from library staff on Chinese New Year, learn simple Mandarin and get your body moving.
  • Family Fun Day

크리이스트 쳐치 시립 도서관의 올 설날 행사

올해의 크라이스트 시립 도서관 설날 행사를 확인하세요

Chinese New Year postcard

Fendalton Library: 금요일, 3시 – 5시, 2월 20일 2015

민속 공연을 즐기실 수 있고 연등 만들기 와 여러분의 띠로 알아보는 올해의운세를 확인하세요.

Upper Riccarton Library: 토요일, 10시 45분 – 3시 30분, 2월 21일 2015

사자 탈춤의 시작과 함께 공식 행사가10시 45분 에서 11시에 시작되고 계속해서 민속 공연과 연등 만들기 그리고 여러분의 띠로 알아보는 올해의운세를 알아보세요. 만들기 시간과 다양한 행사에 가족과 함께 참여해보세요.

Central Library Peterborough: 일요일, 10시 30분 – 2시, 2월 22일 2015

민속 공연을 즐기시고 연등 만들기에도 참여하세요. 마오리 깃털 코트 만들기 시간도 마련했습니다.

Lunar New Year Celebrations at Christchurch City Libraries – 20 to 22 February 2015

The Year of the Sheep begins on Thursday 19 February 2015. Find out about the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations which are taking place at Christchurch City Libraries this year.

Chinese New Year postcard

Where and when


Performances will include (in no particular order):

  • Chinese Lion Dance (Qiao Yi Lion Dance Team Christchurch)
  • Japanese Drum (Canterbury Japanese Drum Group TAKUMI)
  • Chinese traditional instruments, dance and songs (Christchurch Fellowship of Song, Dance and Drama; Christchurch Zhong Hua Chinese Society; Elder Fitness Group)
  • Traditional instruments – Yaogu (percussion musical instrument), Erhu (two stringed fiddle), Guzheng (Chinese plucked zither), Hulusi (free reed wind instrument), Flute
  • Chinese Kung Fu sword
  • Mexican dance (Mexican community)
  • Blue and White Porcelain Dance (Christchurch Fellowship of Song, Dance and Drama)
  • New Year story telling
The Qiao Yi Lion Dance Team dragon
The Qiao Yi Lion Dance Team dragon at Upper Riccarton Library , January 2012,
Flickr, CCL-2012-01-23-UpperRiccartonLibrary

Family fun craft sessions and activities

  • Face painting
  • Māori feather cloak making using paper
  • Tea ceremony
  • Lantern making
  • Dough sculpture
  • Chinese zodiac animals

Learn more about Chinese New Year and our Chinese language resources.

Lantern Festival

dragonIn the weekend, we took the kids along to the Lantern Festival in Hagley Park. This was a first for me, even though the festival has been going for several years now.

I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting…something a bit more than a few lanterns strung between the trees I guess, but not the beautiful, elaborate lanterns in the shape of animals, dragons and Ming vases. They were (in the words of the Young Lad) “very awesome!” even in the early evening light.

The lion and dragon dancers were wonderful, it was great to see them dancing through the crowd. The kids especially enjoyed the fireworks and their helium balloons. Although my family of gastronomic neophobes didn’t try the Asian cuisine, if the queues were anything to go by the food was great too. I’d say it was definitely worth the fight for a carpark!

New Zealand’s Chinese heritage

When I was a teenager our art teacher used to take us on sketching trips to the museum. The idea was that we would spend our time sketching rather unattractive stuffed animals. It soon became a problem to extract me from the Asian Gallery. The beauty and sophistication of the ceramics and carvings there held my attention long after I left school.

However, they weren’t objects that I associated with New Zealand until many years later. What did Asia have to do with us who were so attached to the British Isles? It wasn’t until the 70s, after Britain cut the economic ties by joining the EEC (EU), that I began to appreciate that our future lay with our neighbours in Polynesia and Asia.

Then in the 1980s books by authors Manying Ip and James Ng again transformed my awareness – this time of the history of Chinese in New Zealand – with their readable and often beautifully illustrated books.

Our growing awareness of our own country’s history over the intervening decades and our understanding of our real geographical place in the world, has made us all a great deal more aware of China and what early Chinese immigrants endured here. This was a place where they hoped to find peace and enough money to help families trapped by poverty, famine and political unrest.Instead they endured lives of great hardship and put up with degrading prejudice. Initially wives generally stayed in China to look after family and later the Poll Tax made it almost impossible to bring them here, so many men remained single. At one time there were 4995 Chinese men in New Zealand but only 9 women. Making a life here wasn’t easy.

New Zealand was the first country to apologise to their Chinese community for the Poll Tax – a representation of decades of unfair immigration policies and prejudice.

SnakeThese days, snippets of the rich culture Chinese immigrants bring with them are beginning to reach the rest of the community, most noticeably in the form on Chinese New Year celebrations. In Christchurch we celebrate with a Lantern Festival  in Hagley Park at the beginning of March. However, New Year celebrations officially begin on 10 February and this one ushers in the year of the snake, apparently signifying a good year for science and research.

LanternsLanternsBeijing Opera masks

Celebrating Chinese New Year

One of my favourite times of year is Chinese New Year also known as Lunar New Year. This year it falls on 23 January 2012 and is the Year of the Dragon in Chinese astrology.

I am a fan of lanterns – Upper Riccarton Library is re-opening on Monday 23 January, and on their opening day they will have a Lantern Making workshop.

This year the Lantern Festival will be at the Carlton Corner end of North Hagley Park on 11 and 12 February 2012. Bring along your loved ones for a vibrant colourful spectacle with delicious aromas and exotic performances.

Learn more about Chinese New Year  and the history and cultural background of China and the Lantern Festival.

Do you have a burning desire to learn to speak Chinese or travel to China?

OverDrive has free  resources on these subjects available to download to your computer, CD, eBook reader, iPod and mp3 player.

If you already read in Chinese did you know we have resources in Chinese language and you can read 17 Chinese newspapers for free with your library card and PIN number through Press Display?

So let’s join in the Chinese New Year celebrations!