CHINESSE NEW YEAR IN MAURITIUS
Spring Festival History, Traditions And Festivities In Mauritius
The Lunar New Year 2019 begins on Tuesday, Feb. 5, to welcome the Year of the Pig. Each year, its festivities gather the people of China as well as the Chinese and Asian diaspora throughout the globe and also brings together those who are enthusiastic about Chinese cultural, gstronomy and musical richness, among others.
In Mauritius the Chinese Near Year Eve is an opportunity to prepare a grand family diner, at home rather than in a restaurant. Fish is one of the delicacies served as well as dumplings. These two dishes bring prosperity. Firecrakers also mark the beginning of the New Year at midnight and bring luck.
The greatest concentration of Chinese-Mauritians is in the city of Port Louis, but they live all over the island and even those not of Chinese descent get involved in the Chinese New Year celebrations.
Red is above all the iconic colour of the New Year and it comes in differents forms: outfits, the red envelopes given as gifts or hóngbāo (the money inside is considered as a way to keep evil at bay from children and as bringing good health, the decorations (lanterns, guarlands, paper cuttings, paintings and statues of the Gods, among others. On this special occasion the Lion Dance is the traditional dance where the participants wear lion outfits and dance to imitate the animal. It is believed to bring luck during the year.
Chinatown is the place to be
Although the Mauritius Chinese community is fairly small – about 3% of the population – it has had great influence on life in Mauritius, and Chinese Spring Festival is celebrated with much pomp and fanfare on the island. The main celebrations are centred around Chinatown in Port Louis, where the new year is ushered in with vibrant processions of lion and dragon dances, watched by families and visitors from across the island.
Streets are festooned with red lanterns (red being a symbol of happiness) and the aromas of delicious Chinese street food waft through the air. Shops and houses are decorated with oriental ornaments and are thoroughly cleaned before the festival begins. In hope that the following year will be bountiful, abundant offerings of traditional foods like dumplings, seaweed and raw fish salad are proffered – though no knives are to be used on the day itself to prevent injuries and starting the year with bad luck, so most cooking gets done in advance. Colourful firework displays and crackers fill the night sky and ward off evil spirits as the new year rolls in.
2019 - Celebrating the year of the pig
The Pig is the twelfth of all zodiac animals. According to one myth, the Jade Emperor said the order would be decided by the order in which they arrived to his party. Pig was late because he overslept. Another story says that a wolf destroyed his house. He had to rebuild his home before he could set off. When he arrived, he was the last one and could only take twelfth place.
The Pig is also associated with the Earthly Branch (地支—dì zhī) hài (亥), and the hours 9–11 in the night. In terms of yin and yang (阴阳—yīn yáng), the Pig is yin. In Chinese culture, pigs are the symbol of wealth. Their chubby faces and big ears are signs of fortune as well.
Chinesse New Year Cakes
Traditional Chinese New Year “wax” cakes are also made in the lead up to the festival – a steamed, gelatinous concoction made with dried fruit and rice flour, otherwise known as sticky cake, or Nian Gao – and distributed among family and friends.
Why Do Chinese People Celebrate Chinese New Year?
Chinese New Year is a time to celebrate good luck during the previous year and to wish for a prosperous new year.
Celebrations include having an annual reunion dinner on Chinese New Year's Eve, setting off firecrackers, giving lucky money to children, ringing the New Year bell, sending Chinese New Year greetings, dragon and lion dancing, and Niu Yangge (traditional dances in northern China).
Traditional Customs for Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is a grand occasion for the Chinese nation. To this day, apart from activities for worshiping gods, which are downplayed, the major customs for Chinese New Year are well preserved and developed.
Chinese New Year is a time to:
- get rid of the old and make way for the new;
- worship Heaven and pray for a bumper harvest year;
- reunite the whole family and honor the ancestors;
- participate in all kinds of creativity and having fun