All Starts from a wish of get together
There is a fairy-tale that the origin of the Chinese Spring Festival is from lighting firecrackers to drive away the monster called Nian (Year). However, it is just a story that makes the festival more interesting and joyous. Went through the old year and ushering the New Year, giving the best wishes to the relatives and friends and getting together with them are the most important things in most Chinese mind. Therefore, the celebration for Spring Festival at Brighton & Hove was also stemmed from a wish of getting together. Although the date of spring festival depends on lunar calendar that each year has different dates, most of them are between January to February during which students and staff in UK had already started study and work. Chinese old saying goes “Ones will more than ever miss their distant relatives on festive occasions”. Although on abroad, the Chinese still keep this ancestral tradition, so as them who live in Brighton and Hove. The original celebration started in living room. Several students visited their Chinese teacher’s house during Spring Festival and made hearty meal include various handmade dumplings and ribs to ease the homesick. Year after year, as more and more students came here, the celebration was becoming increasingly lively – You can never image how we prepared more than 3000 dumplings and chopped 2 boxes ribs in one day at that living room! It’s obviously that the room was not big enough we need a bigger place to hold a decent celebration.
In 2000, West Beach Hotel was fortunate to be the place where we held our first formal Celebration of Chinese Spring Festival. “I Want A Home” which is the heartfelt wishes of every Chinese here was chosen as the theme of the first year’s celebration. The event was extremely successful and sensational, West Beach Hotel was full of people on that day, the Mayor of Brighton and Hove and the representative from Chinese Embassy had also attended the celebration. Since then, the Chinese New Year Celebration became an indispensable yearly event for Brighton and Hove. We are proud that celebration has already became a good way for local Chinese community to celebrate the most important festival together and a valuable opportunity for people especially the children live in Brighton and Hove to understand Chinese culture. As the celebration scale kept increasing year after year, we needed more people and a more professional and well organised team to manage the preparation of the ceremony. Thus we established a charity organisation named Chinese educational Development Project (CEDP)
Chinese Centre which also dedicates to introduce the Chinese cultural and get together Chinese community and local people who are interested in Chinese culture. The celebration was well prepared by CEDP’s staff and volunteers.
Before the celebration, venue was decorated by lots of Chinese elements included Chinese big red lanterns and Chinese character FU (“福”) which means good luck and happiness. The stage and stands were also decked out hundreds of horse shape balloons, these balloons would become the favourite toy for children after the celebration. The celebration was started by the speech and best wishes from CEDP’s Chairman Dr Hong Lu and other VIPs including the Mayor of B&H, Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex, Lord Stephen Green and the First secretary of Chinese Embassy Education Session. The biggest lion in white fur is the leader; another four big lions are in different colours. They were all performed by two performers. There was one young lion played by a child. The eyes of the lions can blink and swivel to left and right, the mouth can spit out New Year scrolls with greeting words. Usually are called Spring Festival couples, the most of Chinese families pasted it on gateposts or panels before Chinese New Year. Lion dancing can interact with audience; some brave children touched the lion when the performers walked off stage during the dance.
The most representative traditional art is Yangge folk dance. The dancers normally dress up in red, green, or other colourful costumes, these colour represent flourishing and happiness in the Chinese mind. There are a lot of props of yangge folk dance such as dancing fans, silk ribbons. Other two attractive performances were Chinese Tai Chi Fan and Martial arts. Lots of audience was following the performance to practice. The performance lasted three hours. Besides, quite a lot of children came with their parents that brought more joys and happiness to the celebration. Most of them dressed very smart and in traditional Chinese cloth – Tang-suits and cheongsams. People walked around the exhibition stalls and bought some Chinese souvenirs. They also had a chance to taste authentic Chinese food, e.g. Baozi and Chinese dumplings, as a gourmet and enjoyed a “Bite of China” in Brighton & Hove. Another very popular small snack is the fortune cookies. Although they are not the common food in the traditional sense, this funny and lucky food wrapped a small piece of paper which may include a proverb or a warm sentence or some suggestions. Opening it is full of surprise, and the tastes are as great as the encouraging content on the little paper. Children are very interested in CEDP arts & crafts workshop which including calligraphy, dragon / lantern making and other interesting activities. Besides, audiences could also find out useful information about education, history and culture.
We have already started our preparation work. If you I any advice and suggestion or you want to be a member of us or you want to show yourself on the stage, please do not hesitate to contact us by 0844 800 7292 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The door of CEDP Chinese Centre is always open for you and our New Year celebration always welcome your support and participation.