Hello everyone and welcome back to Britain under the microscope, the Chinese New Year special. Hello 安瀾。
This is the sixth day of the Chinese New Year and I guess a lot of people in China are already back at work or getting ready to go back to work. But today 安瀾 and I are going to take you to a place where the New Year celebration just started or about to start.
Yap，Lulu and I are here in London for the largest Chinese New Year celebration outside of Asia.
And you can probably hear the background there's lots of people. We are lucky to get a place to stand.
Yeah, we're just around the corner from Trafalgar Square and very close to the Chinatown area here in central London.
So this is the Chinese New Year parade in London. Does this happen every year?
Every year, and every single year it gets bigger and bigger.
I can tell. I attended this before and I would say this is a bigger turn out. I know that London has a big Chinatown. But is there a large community of Chinese people in London?
Actually there's not that many. There's around a hundred and twenty thousand Chinese people living in London.
A hundred twenty thousand that's not that many.
No it's only about one point five percent of the population.
Wow. But I guess a lot of people who are not Chinese are also interested in the huge celebration.
Oh yeah, absolutely! We do have lots of people that come over from China as well. They come to take part in the parade and it is February.
I guess after Christmas and New Year you pretty much have to wait till Easter.
Yeah. It's a long time during the winter to go without some sort of celebration.
And like I said in some of the earlier episode, this year is the year of the pig. By the way 安瀾，let me give you a quick test of the Chinese zodiac.
Oh god, let me try. This year is the year of the pig. Next year is the year of the rat. You also have ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon and snake, yes, horse, sheep and em… monkey. And there's one more, isn't it?
Oh, there are two more rooster and dog. Uh and then we're back to pig again. Do people in the UK actually know about Chinese zodiac or have they at least heard of it?
Many people have heard of it and a lot of people will know what the year is.
I guess it's one of those fun cultural bits that people just take in.
Yeah. Ok. So I've got a few questions for you actually today Lulu.
In Chinese you say 過年，don't you?
What does that actually really mean like passing the year?
Oh, that actually has a folklore attached to it (一個民間傳説). There was this mythical beast called 年，so it was a monster and it would eat villagers especially children. So the villagers are trying to do all these sorts of things to scare the年 away.
That sounds a bit scary.
Oh yeah, it was scary. But then the smart villagers they learn to use the color red and also loud noises to scare the monster away.
So is that why you light off firecracker.
Yeah. Exactly, so firecrackers and traditionally people like to wear red or very bright colors they hang the red lanterns and all that.
Okay. All this was really interesting. I've lived in Beijing for quite a few years, but there are still a few things I don't really know. For example at the door people put up a type of poster.
Oh that's called spring festival couplets. Couplets，c-o-u-p-l-e-t-s （春聯、對聯）That is just like poems for good luck.
And you also have pictures of door gods and have you noticed that on many doors there is a character of 福 or fortune.
Oh I know that one. That's the one you have to hang upside down.
Some people do, you don't necessarily have to but there is a tradition to say 福到了。
Ok. So fortune has arrived.
Yes or fortune is upside down, they use the same sound.
And also I know that eating dumplings is a huge part of Chinese New Year as well.
I think that's only for northern China.
Yeah. I think people in the south they have their own special food to celebrate the New Year. But I've been in the north for too long, so for me it's always dumplings.
Ok. So what other things do people do during Chinese New Year?
It's so so very common for people to 拜年 or like visit each other or send New Year's greetings or blessings and of course red envelope.（過年的紅包）Have you received any red envelopes for Chinese New Year?
Um when I first came to China I used to receive in a natural red envelope, but now everyone sends them via wechat.
Yeah. Did you receive any this year?
Uh yeah, I've received a few, but I'm never that lucky with them. I always get the lowest amount.
Well, hopefully you get better a lot next year.
For us, we have special TV programs at Christmas and also New Year. And is that the same in China as well?
I guess less so now. But traditionally, especially for older generation from my parents' generation, they would always try to sit down and watch the CCTV New Year gala. 春晚
Ok. So what do people do in that gala?
It's a variety show. So songs or comic sketches or even magic.
Oh yes, I remember. Yeah I really like the magic.
Yeah. So the New Year gala, I know every year people say that it's not very good or they would complain about it, but a lot of people would still do it just for tradition.
Yeah that's pretty much the same as ours sort of Christmas TV shows and things like that Christmas specials.
I guess especially for Chinese people who are not living in China or who had to spend Chinese New Year in another country, then watching New Year gala would be the connection to home.
Yeah. And I know that would feel like it's same for me in Christmas. And also quite a few people that I know they talk about their 本命年。What does that actually mean?
You're 本命年is your zodiac year of birth. So for example, if you were born in the year of the pig, then every year of the pig would be your 本命年。That is kind of your unlucky year.
You're unlucky year.
Yeah. So you need to wear red things to repel the bad luck, for example many people wear red underwear.
Yeah, so I guess you have to prepare many pairs of red underwear. But some other people will just wear red charms.
Oh I have seen those, the bracelets
Like the bracelets, 一個小的吉祥物或一個小的護身符。To guard against the bad luck.
Ah, here they come the parades just come in path now.
Oh they have said they have to dragon dance.
Yeah, they have dragon dances and look over there, they also have acrobats as well.
還有雜技acrobats. Great. So these are all organized by the government or by some association.
Um by associations and also by the support of the local government the local London government as well. As I say it's a very big celebration here in London and people really do like it.
I can see so many people taking pictures. It's nice to see the Chinese New Year is appreciated elsewhere.
Yeah and after the parade we can go and look at the stores, they're selling handicrafts and also selling Chinese food as well.
Yum, can't wait to try some of the Chinese food in London and I heard later on they will also light off firecrackers and fireworks.
Yeah they're gonna have a big firework display later.
Yeah, firework 焰火 and firecrackers 鞭炮。This is quite a special event isn't it? I mean the Chinese idea of 熱鬧，you can't really translate that into English.
No. 熱鬧it's a really hard word to translate. I can never translate it, the closest would be probably excitement or sort of the buzz of the crowd.
The buzz and you can really feel it here. So let us finish off this episode because I can't wait to follow the crowd and also to check out the stores.
Yeah, but that's Cantonese.
Oh sorry, so 恭喜發財
We will see you in the next episode. We are going to explore the Chinese community in London. See you next time.