THE Chinese New Year was seen in with one hell of a bang on Saturday, when the Chinese Association of Woking (CAW), together with Woking Borough Council, welcomed the New Year at the heart of the town by organising a spectacle of colour, song and dance in what is a thousand-year-old tradition.
CAW’s extravaganza featured Lion Dancing, traditional Chinese dance and displays of martial arts, delivering as broad a spectrum of events as they could in order to share the amazing cultural experience with everyone.
Lion dancers opened the proceedings just before noon by leading a parade of blazing colours and mesmerising sounds along Mercia Walk, Commercial Way and Market Walk, into Jubilee Square.
The parade was followed by two delightful shows in the town centre, where CAW members had stalls purveying all manner of goodies from The Orient, indulging locals in such things as Chinese name-writing, arts and crafts and, most importantly, a host of mouthwatering New Year snacks with which to tease the palate.
CAW’s main purpose as a group is to advance the education of the public in all aspects of Chinese culture – the arts, tradition, history and language in particular.
As it isn’t an organisation exclusive to people of Chinese origin, anyone with an interest in ‘all things China’ may sign up to be a member.
In China, traditional astrology attaches different animal signs to each lunar year in a 12-year rotation.
This year there has been a hornets’ nest of debate over precisely which creature of the zodiac pertains to the 2015 New Year – goat or sheep.
Not that it ultimately matters, as Chinese folklorists dismiss the fixation on the exact animal as missing the point.
For example, a goat is a ‘mountain yang’, a sheep is a ‘soft yang’ and a Mongolian gazelle is a ‘yellow yang’. Both goats and sheep appear in Chinese New Year paintings, in paper-cuts and on festive decorations… so let’s just say that as long as it’s a bovid, it’s a winner!