The Year of the Pig is set to dawn and Auckland’s Chinese community is busily organising celebrations across the city.
In the Howick Local Board area, there are two events, the first on 9 February at the Botany Town Centre and the second on 10 February at the Pakuranga Plaza, both from 2pm.
Board chair David Collings says the celebrations have become something of an institution and are not to be missed.
“We have enjoyed a big Chinese community for a long time, and these events are something special, with attendances growing year by year and residents enjoying great food and entertainment," he says.
"The fact our celebrations are held in two different locations tells you everything you need to know.”
Both events are free, but they are eagerly anticipated as people enjoy the sights, sounds, smells and pageantry of the celebrations, so allow time to find a park and settle in.
Celebrating the Lunar New Year
More than 20 per cent of the world's population celebrates Chinese New Year. The event is also known as the Spring Festival because in China it marks the end of the coldest days. It can also be called the Lunar New Year, since it is celebrated widely in other Asian countries, and because it goes by the lunar calendar, the date can range widely.
Originally a time to pray for a good harvest many myths surround the festival, the most famous about the monster Nian, who comes every New Year’s Eve. Most people hid but one boy fought him off with firecrackers and the colour red, which scared him.
The next day people celebrated by setting off even more firecrackers, making them a crucial part of the festival. The celebration is also said to cause the largest migration in the world every year as families travel to be together.
Expect Pakuranga and Botany to be red, which is an invaluable weapon against ill-fortune. Chinese people hang red lanterns and strings of chili peppers, paste red paper onto doors and windows, and wear new red clothes which are also believed to bring good luck.
Just as the western world has 12 zodiac signs, one for each month, there are 12 Chinese zodiac signs, but for the entire year. Rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster and dog will all have to take a back seat with 2019 the Year of the Pig.
People tend to think a zodiac year must be lucky, but the opposite is true. Your ‘benming’ year is the unluckiest of the 12-year cycle, because of the traditional belief children can be taken by demons, and a 'benming' year signals rebirth.
Fortunately, a mythological creature named Pi Xiu can be worn as an accessory for good luck and red remains a good defence.
Auckland's first Chinese councillor, Paul Young, represents the Howick ward and says having now spent more of his life in Auckland than Taiwan, he’s a Kiwi.
"I’m proud to say Howick has embraced these celebrations for many years, so if you wouldn’t mind rekindling that New Year feeling, join us at Botany or Pakuranga – better still, both.”