The Year of the Rooster

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"It has been re­ported that, in ad­vance of the

fes­ti­val, hun­dreds of mil­lions of peo­ple travel to their fam­ily homes in the var­i­ous prov­inces of China"

For 1.4 bil­lion peo­ple on main­land China, and for roughly 19% of the world’s en­tire pop­u­la­tion, the fort­night­long cel­e­bra­tion of the Chi­nese New Year is inar­guably the big­gest and most sig­nif­i­cant fes­ti­val in the cal­en­dar year.

It has been re­ported that, in ad­vance of the fes­ti­val, hun­dreds of mil­lions of peo­ple travel to their fam­ily homes in the var­i­ous prov­inces of China, tak­ing part in the largest mass mi­gra­tion on the planet. The Xinghua news agency has re­ported that over 2.5 bil­lion road jour­neys will be taken, ahead of, and dur­ing, the cel­e­bra­tions, with tick­ets for air and rail-travel all in mas­sive de­mand.

Although the pop­u­la­tion of Chi­nese na­tion­als liv­ing in Ire­land is rel­a­tively small (there were roughly 11,000 listed on the 2011 cen­sus), the im­pact of Chi­nese cul­ture is strongly felt, par­tic­u­larly in the cap­i­tal city, where Par­nell Street has be­come a val­ued, al­beit as yet unof­fi­cially named, Chi­na­town.

The in­ter­na­tion­ally recog­nised Dublin Chi­nese New Year Fes­ti­val was es­tab­lished in 2008. This year, the Chi­nese New Year’s Eve fell on Jan­uary 27 but the fes­ti­val – which in 2017 com­mem­o­rates the Chi­nese na­tional hol­i­day, high­lights the con­tri­bu­tion of the Chi­nese com­mu­nity liv­ing in Ire­land and cel­e­brates the twin­ning of Dublin with Bei­jing in 2011 – runs up to Fe­bru­ary 12.

In China, the lu­nar cal­en­dar is used to de­ter­mine the dates of most tra­di­tional fes­ti­vals. It is for this rea­son that the Chi­nese New Year roams some­what on the more com­monly used Gre­go­rian cal­en­dar. In much the same way that the date of Easter is de­ter­mined by its as­so­ci­a­tion with the spring, or Ver­nal Equinox, the Chi­nese New Year falls on the date that marks the be­gin­ning of the lu­nar year.

While the Chi­nese use the Gre­go­rian cal­en­dar for all of­fi­cial pur­poses, and con­duct busi­ness by it, the lu­nar cal­en­dar is still em­ployed in other ar­eas. Some, for ex­am­ple, still use it to mark their birth­days and it is also used for Chi­nese zo­diac horo­scopes and in se­lect­ing favourable or lucky times for wed­dings and travel.

The Chi­nese New Year: What’s Hap­pen­ing in Dublin

The fes­tiv­i­ties for The Year of the Rooster be­gan on the Chi­nese New Year’s Eve, Fri­day Jan­uary

27, with a spec­tac­u­lar fam­ily–friendly evening of en­ter­tain­ment in Meet­ing House Square, in Tem­ple Bar.

Tra­di­tional Chi­nese dragons, dar­ing cir­cus per­form­ers and drum­mers ush­ered in the Year of the Rooster in style – kick­ing off a fort­night of cel­e­bra­tions.

Over the 14 days of the fes­ti­val, there is a mas­sive list of in­trigu­ing events on of­fer that will ap­peal to in­quis­i­tive Ir­ish folk, Chi­nese vis­i­tors and the large pop­u­la­tion of Chi­nese na­tion­als and those of Chi­nese de­scent liv­ing all over Ire­land. These events will pro­vide a chance to ex­plore the rich his­tory and cul­ture of the land of the ris­ing sun, and to cel­e­brate the cul­tural di­ver­sity of our own lit­tle is­land.

The Mu­sic of China

• One of the mu­si­cal high­lights takes place on Fe­bru­ary 6, when the tra­di­tional and folk mu­sic of China will be cel­e­brated with a gala con­cert at the Na­tional Con­cert Hall, pre­sented by the Hangzhou Fed­er­a­tion of Lit­er­ary & Arts Cir­cles and the Hangzhou Mu­si­cian As­so­ci­a­tion.

On the fi­nal night of the fes­ti­val, /he ugh

Lane Gallery will host a mu­si­cal per­for­mance by the Ir­ish/Chi­nese Youth Con­cert Or­gan­i­sa­tion.

The evening will in­clude a mix of clas­si­cal and con­tem­po­rary recitals from Chi­nese and Ir­ish stu­dents and spe­cial per­for­mances by the award­win­ning 17-year-old pi­anist Ai­dan Chan and opera singer Florence Chong.

Food Tast­ings

• Food will play a big part in the cel­e­bra­tion of the Chi­nese New Year, and the Lao Restau­rant on Par­nell Square West is sure to be a pop­u­lar hub for New Year’s rev­ellers. On Fe­bru­ary 2, you can gather with some good com­pany for a crash-course in con­coct­ing the per­fect hot pot. Con­sid­ered the ul­ti­mate com­mu­nal din­ing eÝpe­ri­ence, the first rule of ot *ot ight isAE

you don’t hot pot with peo­ple you don’t like! Fe­bru­ary 5 will see the pop­u­lar Asian pas­time of karaoke cel­e­brated in the restau­rant, with a night of English and Chi­nese songs avail­able for those brave enough to jump on­stage, as well as a se­lec­tion of tra­di­tional Chi­nese snacks. Many other Chi­nese restau­rants will be fea­tur­ing spe­cial Chi­nese New Year menus across the fort­night, in­clud­ing China Sichuan in Sandy­ford and Mak in Ranelagh.

The Na­tional Botanic Gar­dens will host a tra­di­tional tea cer­e­mony on Fe­bru­ary 9. Mean­while, over the course of the fes­ti­val many of the city’s restau­rants will be fea­tur­ing set menus es­pe­cially to cel­e­brate the New Year, in­clud­ing award win­ning chef Karl Whe­lan’s new au­then­tic Chi­nese restau­rant, Hang Dai, on Cam­den Street, and the Asia Mar­ket on Drury Street, where there will also be in-store cook­ing demon­stra­tions, free sam­plings and tast­ings, and much more tasty treats through­out the fes­ti­val.

For Chi­nese vis­i­tors, there are many op­por­tu­ni­ties to ex­plore and learn about the cap­i­tal over the course of the fes­ti­val. One of the most unique is a Lazy Bike Tour con­ducted in Man­darin on Fe­bru­ary 11. Kit­ted out with some eye–catch­ing elec­tric bikes, knowl­ege­able tour guides will teach vis­i­tors about the hid­den his­tory of Dublin’s dif­fer­ent quar­ters and stop off at the Teel­ing Dis­tillery to sam­ple some au­then­tic Ir­ish whiskey.

Art and Aes­thetic Val­ues

• Through­out the fes­ti­val the Ch­ester Beatty Li­brary is a must–visit des­ti­na­tion for those in­ter­ested in the dis­tinc­tive na­ture of Chi­nese art. From ret­ro­spec­tives of Chi­nese artists like Hong Ling, to a be­hind-the-scenes look at the Metropoli­tan Mu­seum of Art’s most at­tended fash­ion ex­hi­bi­tion, China: Through the Look­ing

Glass (Feb 12), and lec­tures about the rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent aes­thetic val­ues of Chi­nese Art, the li­brary will be buzzing with ac­tiv­ity. In ad­di­tion to these yagshi« eve˜ts] there Üill also Le fu˜ for the whole fam­ily, in­clud­ing a chance to dec­o­rate your very own rooster and a work­shop where you can learn to make your own New Year lantern.

"˜ the w˜al `ay] r° Ƃu`rey 7hitty Üill host a tour of the Na­tional Mu­seum of Ire­land’s col­lec­tion of ob­jects orig­i­nat­ing from China. The tour will be bilin­gual, with Man­darin in­ter­pre­ta­tion be­ing pro­vided by Vicky Yanli Wang.

Clos­ing out the fes­ti­val, the UCD Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute for Ire­land will wel­come China’s Eth­nic Song and Dance En­sem­ble for a de­but Ir­ish per­for­mance at the Con­ven­tion Cen­tre, Dublin on Fe­bru­ary 11. Founded in 1952 by Premier Zhou En­lai, the per­form­ing troupe has grown to over 300 mem­bers and has toured in over 70 coun­tries. Many world lead­ers, in­clud­ing the US Sec­re­tary of State, have en­joyed per­for­mances pre­sented by the com­pany. On the night of the Gala, more than thirty pro­fes­sional artists in­clud­ing one of China’s most fa­mous Mon­go­lian singers, Teng Geer, will de­liver a feast of Chi­nese eth­nic art with unique chore­og­ra­phy and stun­ning cos­tumes.

“This is the 11th Spring Fes­ti­val Gala put on by the UCD Con­fu­cius In­sti­tute,” Pro­fes­sor Lim­ing Wang, Di­rec­tor of the In­sti­tute ex­plains. “The past ten years have seen the gala grow far be­yond

Ühat Üe ha` ho«e`° The wrst gala tooŽ «laVe i˜ the UCD Stu­dent cen­tre. It then moved to the

"More than thirty pro­fes­sional artists in­clud­ing one of China’s most fa­mous Mon­go­lian singers, Teng

Geer, will de­liver a feast of Chi­nese eth­nic art"

much larger O’Reilly Hall – and now, the past few years have seen it move to the Na­tional Con­ven­tion Cen­tre.

º7i “ˆ}…Ì ˜ii` ̜ w˜` >˜ iÛi˜ Lˆ}}iÀ Ûi˜Õi ܜ˜] >à ̅iÀi ˆÃ }Ài>Ì an­tic­i­pa­tion for the gala and it sells out ev­ery year,” Pro­fes­sor Wang adds.

“The gala reg­u­larly fea­tures lo­cal per­form­ers and gives stu­dents from the In­sti­tute the chance to show off their Chi­nese. The China Eth­nic Song and Dance En­sem­ble, from Bei­jing – who are this year’s main per­form­ers q >Ài v>“œÕà vœÀ Àiy­iV̈˜} i̅˜ˆVq“ˆ˜œÀˆÌÞ }ÀœÕ«Ã vÀœ“ ܈̅ˆ˜ …ˆ˜>° /…iˆÀ mu­sic and dance pro­duc­tion high­lights a va­ri­ety of tra­di­tional Chi­nese mi­nor­ity cul­tures, from Uyghur, Ti­betan, Manchu, Mon­go­lian and Kazakh to Korean and much more.

“China is a huge coun­try,” Pro­fes­sor Wang notes, “with many dif­fer­ent prov­inces and cul­tural spe­cial­i­ties. These per­form­ers, some of whom are house­hold names in China, sing songs I’d never heard, and play tra­di­tional in­stru­ments I’d never even seen be­fore!”

It prom­ises to be a won­der­ful night. But that isn’t the UCD Con­fu­cious In­sti­tute’s only in­volve­ment in this year’s Chi­nese New Year cel­e­bra­tions.

“Aside from the gala,” Pro­fes­sor Wang ex­plains, “our staff will be man­ning sev­eral booths at the Spring Fes­ti­val Fair at the CHQ build­ing, where they will also be pro­vid­ing tea–tast­ings.”

Over­all, the In­sti­tute will pro­vide a mem­o­rable ex­am­ple of how the Chi­nese per­form­ing arts cel­e­brate and il­lu­mi­nate cul­tural di­ver­sity. Long may it con­tinue.

The Chi­nese New Year Fes­ti­val is one of the events of the year in Dublin city. And it is grow­ing ev­ery year in its reach and sig­nif­i­cance. Peter McNally sets the scene…

Let’s dance: China’s Eth­nic Song and Dance En­sem­ble make their Ir­ish de­but at Dublin’s Con­ven­tion Cen­tre on Fe­bru­ary 11.

Strum as you are: China’s Eth­nic Song and Dance En­sem­ble

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