Chinese celebrating 2014 as ‘Year of the Horse’


THE Chinese community celebrates 2014 as the ‘Year of the Horse’, reflecting on the previous year’s achievements and going forth with anticipation of a better one.Several activities are planned for the occasion and it was reiterated by officials of the Chinese Association of Guyana that, on this day, the celebrations are family oriented, with dinners and visits.
Families travel for long distances to meet and make merry. Known as the ‘Spring Movement’, a great migration takes place in China during this period where many travellers brave the crowds to get to their hometowns.
Food is an important component of the New Year and traditional dishes include ‘nian gao’ or ‘sweet sticky rice cake’ and savoury dumplings, which are round and symbolise never ending wealth.
A dinner called ‘Nian Ye Fan’ is held on New Year’s Eve, during which family members gather and the venue will, usually, be in or near the home of the most senior member of the family. The New Year’s Eve dinner is very large and sumptuous and, traditionally, includes dishes of meat, namely – pork, chicken and fish.
The Association will then host a dinner to commemorate this occasion with their community and the dishes prepared for this event all have significant names pertaining to the Year of the Horse.
Several aspects
The Association will be hosting its inaugural Chinese New Year Fair at the National Park on February 9 and, according to the Association, the fair will feature several aspects of the Chinese culture, the Lion Dance, the Dragon Dance, fashion displays and the Lantern Ceremony.
Foods such as ‘Dim Sum’ will be on sale and patrons will also be able to purchase other cuisines as well as ornaments and more relics associated with the culture.
In an interview with the Guyana Chronicle, the Association highlighted that 2013 was a very special year for the Chinese community, since they celebrated their 160 years of existence in Guyana. There were also projects done in 2013 that will continue into the New Year as an ongoing mission.
Seminars done with the Ministry of Labour, Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) were conducted to educate the community on the laws and obligations that govern the local business sector.
The Association, in 2014, will initiate a programme to teach English to the Chinese nationals who have already found an instructor willing to volunteer the service.
In the early days, there were settlers here from Guangdong Province, who brought the art of cooking and there is now an influx from Jiangxi and Zhejiang Provinces, which are manufacturers and clothing experts, hence the opening of the clothing stores and proliferation of building construction.
The most important holiday for Chinese around the world is undoubtedly Chinese New Year. The centuries-old legend on its origins varies from teller to teller, but they all include a story of a mythical monster that preyed on villagers. The lion-like monster’s name was ‘Nian’ which is also the Chinese word for ‘year’.
The stories also all include a wise old man who counsels the villagers to ward off the evil Nian by making loud noises with drums and firecrackers and hanging red paper cut-outs and scrolls on their doors because, for some reason, the Nian is scared of the colour red. The villagers took the old man’s advice and the Nian was conquered. On the anniversary of the date, the Chinese recognise the passing of the Nian which is synonymous, as well, with celebrating the New Year.
The date of Chinese New Year changes each time, as it is based on the lunar calendar. 2014 is the Year of the Horse, which is not only a symbol of travelling but a sign of speedy success, intelligence and endurance.