The New Year is the most important cultural festival for Chinese people everywhere, including in Sydney, where it is celebrated in a big way. It is a time for feasting and for exchange of gifts and greetings. Shops and streets across the city will be hung with lanterns and decorations. This year, the first day of the Lunar New Year coincides with the Australia Day long weekend, and with the end of the summer holidays and the beginning of the academic year. This year, it seems that this aspect of Chinese culture will be closely aligned with Australian culture.
What does that mean for us today?
The New Year festival traditionally marked the beginning of the farming year. The Emperor symbolically ploughed a furrow and offered sacrifices to Heaven to bring blessings and good weather for the whole country. In this industrial age, most people have forgotten the environmental connections of the festival. However, in 2017, with growing concern everywhere about pollution and climate change, it may be time to make these connections again.
A well-known Chinese proverb says, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step". It is important to commence a journey as you intend to continue. The New Year festival should be marked by optimism, friendship and laughter. It inaugurates a fortunate and happy year, and more care for the natural environment.