It's the Lunar New Year, and 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit. Alice Chau from Cantonese in Ireland is here to tell us more about all the festivities.
The group are taking part in Dublin Lunar New Year. Click here to see all the events taking place over the next two weeks!
Lunar New Year, or the Spring Festival, marks the beginning of a new year according to the Lunar Calendar and is celebrated in different Asian countries.
It is celebrated differently in different regions of Asia depending on regions, cultures, and political landscapes. Nowadays, this exciting festival, the Christmas of the East, is celebrated around the globe.
In Ireland, we have immigrants from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam and more celebrating the festival and sharing the joy with our Irish friends.
This is the Year of the Rabbit according to the Chinese Zodiac. Each year, over a cycle of 12 years, is represented by a zodiac animal with its own reputed attributes: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.
On 22 January we will enter the first day of the Year of Rabbit, which symbolises a year of longevity, peace, and prosperity.
According to Cantonese traditions and Neo-Daoism, the Year of the Rabbit is a year of changes. People of different year zodiacs will have different lucky numbers and lucky colours this year.
Red and blue are the lucky colours. What colour do red and blue make? Purple! So purple a lucky colour too!
There can be debates over the lucky numbers. For some people 1,4 and 9 are believed to be the lucky numbers for this year, but then others will say 3, 4 and 6 are the ones they follow.
And, speaking of luck, if you want to bring even more good fortune to your house, you can get a pet fish and place the fish tank in the south of your house.
Just like any big celebration food is really important. All the dishes will have names that sound like greetings or rhyme with greetings. For the Cantonese community, we might eat shrimps as shrimps pronounced as "haa". That symbolises happiness and we can go hahahaha all year.
Unlike turkey for Christmas, we usually go with chicken. We don't go with goose as it sounds like "nagging". Poon choi has become hugely popular recent years.
It's made using layers of many dishes in a basin and it's share in the middle of the table. It was traditionally popular in the farming community where they might not have a lot of nice plates lying around to serve groups of people at once.
But with modern lifestyles, we can all appreciate having less dishes to wash! It has now been gentrified like all things in the world, so very expensive ingredients are being served in these 'basins' nowadays.
Cantonese in Ireland is a non-profit organisation with a mission to promote the Cantonese language and culture in Irish society, and to support the integration of Cantonese-speaking immigrants in Ireland. Cantonese is the second most spoken Sinitic language in the world with 80 million speakers around the world.