Tower Hamlets welcomes the Chinese New Year

It’s a month into 2020 and Chinese New Year celebrations have started in Tower Hamlets.

A day of festivities was held at the Idea Store, Whitechapel for families in the area. The council and Chinese Association of Tower Hamlets worked together to create a day of free activities and festivities. Chinese New Year officially began on January 25 and the celebration continues until February 4.  A few days later the Lantern festival kicks off, symbolizing the wish for a bright future.

The event encouraged people of all backgrounds and cultures to enjoy Chinese New Year. The vibrant festival was a reminder of the joys of living in cosmopolitan London.

Jeff, from the Chinese Association of Tower Hamlets said: “Tower Hamlets is a very culturally diverse borough; the Chinese have a very important role here historically.

We’d like to welcome to people to understand more about the Chinese culture, there’s so much diversity within Chinese culture, of great achievements, in ceramics, in paintings, architecture and art. They were in the height of the world in their technique. These things we must remember.”

Pic: Mary Litchfield

2020 is the year of the Rat, which is seen as a sign of intelligence. There are 12 zodiac signs, and the rat is the first in the order of the 12, which can be seen as unlucky. Chinese New Year is celebrated by over 20 percent of the world and is the most important holiday for Chinese people. It is also called the Spring Festival, because it welcomes a fresh new start. But the start does not seem so fresh for some, with the outbreak of the coronavirus in China. The outbreak  is worrying for people who have family in Wuhan, China.

The Virus has killed 106 so far in China and 4,520 have been infected around the world, but the majority of cases are in Asia. The celebration of Chinese New Year causes one of the largest human migrations in the world, with families travelling to spend the holiday together. As a result of this, health authorities have raised concerns about the spread of the coronavirus. Now is usually China’s busiest travel season. However, 56 million people in Chinese cities surrounding Wuhan have been banned from travelling during the Lunar New Year and Spring Festival.  

Matt, a visitor, who has friends in China says… “[the coronavirus] seems to be well handled, so we’re not worried. China’s well capable of handling disease outbreaks and has done so before with SARS (coronavirus) and bird flu. I’m sure they will handle this one very well too.

We’re trying to bring up our daughter bilingually, so I think it’s important for her to understand her culture and both her grandparents’ culture… I want her to see the lanterns and eat the traditional food. As she grows up understand Chinese characters and writing.”

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