By Omonu Nelson, Abuja
Nigerians, at the weekend, joined their Chinese counterparts to celebrate the 2023 Chinese New Year Temple Fair .
The colourful event, which took place at the China Cultural Centre, Abuja, witnessed large turnout of Nigerians, Chinese community in Nigeria and members of the diplomatic community, invited guests, Nigerian government officials as well as students gathered to have fun.
ChineseNew Year is the festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar. It was traditionally a time to honour deities and ancestors, and it has also become a time to feast and visit family members.
First, legend states that the Chinese New Year stemmed from an ancient battle against the Nian (which sounds the same as ‘year’ in Chinese), a terrifying beast that showed up every Lunar New Year’s Eve to eat people and livestock. To scare away the monster, people displayed red paper, burned bamboo, lit candles, and wore red clothes. These traditions have been continued until the present time.
Second, it is a celebration of the arrival of spring and the beginning of a new year on the Chinese lunisolar calendar.
The festival forbids certain activities which include, no sweeping or crying (to avoid throwing luck away), no clothes/hair washing (to avoid washing fortunes away), no eating of porridge for breakfast (to avoid being poor in the following year), no hospital visit, no black or white clothes, no needlework,.etc while some foods are being regarded as lucky foods and recommended for consumption on the festival day to attract future fortunes. These include fish, spring rolls, rice cake (Nian Gao), sweet rice balls (Tangyuan), and so on.
The Chinese New Year 2023 falls on Sunday, January 22nd, 2023, and celebrations culminate with the Lantern Festival on February 5th, 2023.
Chinese New Year marks the transition between zodiac signs: 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit. The sign of the Rabbit is a symbol of longevity, peace, and prosperity in Chinese culture. 2023 is predicted to be a year of hope.
Speaking in welcome remark, the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, CUI Jianchun, explained that:
“Chinese New Year celebrations are emblematic of the cultural tradition, heritage and aesthetic aspirations of the Chinese nation, abounding in distinctive Chinese symbols of great emotional appeal. The tradition of such celebrations in China dates back more than four thousand years and includes displaying Chinese New Year Couplets, playing fireworks, preparing jiaozi (Chinese dumplings) and having the family reunion dinner on the New Year’s Eve. The sense of anticipation and excitement shared by Chinese everywhere for the festival and the way it is celebrated says a lot about Chinese culture.”
Explaining further, Cui said: “2023 Chinese New Year Celebrations are breaking out across the globe to mark the start of the Lunar New Year of the Rabbit and the Spring Festival. The theme of this year’s Temple Fair is “Sharing Chinese Harmony, Performing Nigeria-China Symphony”, highlighting the further strengthened Sino-Nigerian exchanges and cooperation in all fields.
“The annual cultural event“ Happy Chinese New Year” has become a recognized brand, welcoming our guests and friends to experience cultural traditions associated with the Chinese New Year and enjoy a sampling of jiaozi, New Year fairs and arts performances. The iconic Chinese red and Chinese food and music are now often seen or featured in cities around the world at the advent of the Chinese New Year.”
The “2023 Happy Chinese New Year Temple Fair” was jointly organised by the Chinese Embassy, China Cultural Centre, China General Chamber of Commerce in Nigeria, and supported by the Federal Ministry of Information And Culture of Nigeria.
The grand event consists of 4 parts:
Lion dance performed by local people
Local professional dancers present Nigerian dance, local popular singers sing Nigerian songs.
Chinese cultural demonstration presented by “China Corners” in 12 local schools.
Chinese artists sing Chinese songs, play Chinese traditional musical instruments, such as flute, Guzheng, etc…
Play games for prizes
There are 6 interesting games which are open to all the participants:
1.rope skipping; 2. Spin the Wheel; 3.music chair; 4. hula hoop; 5. dart; 6. ringtoss
C. Experience Taste of China
Chinese food square consists of 16 food stands. Participants can taste Chinese dumpling, spring rolls, fried rice and noodle and experience unique cuisine of China.