ACT News

Lion to lead the celebration for Chinese Year of the Monkey

It's the party to mark the Year of the Monkey but lion dancers will again lead the Chinese New Year celebrations on Sunday. 

The fearsome symbols of protection, prosperity and good luck - made from papier mache and a form of bamboo - will be joined by a percussion team and drummers in appearances across the city. 

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Lucy Turnbull at the official opening of National Library's summer exhibition: ...
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Lucy Turnbull at the official opening of National Library's summer exhibition: Celestial Empire: Life in China 1644-1911 ahead of Chinese New Year on Sunday. Photo: Jay Cronan

Prosperous Mountain Lion Dance troupe leader David Wong, a federal public servant from Crace, said the 25-member team would complete a record 70 performances across the extended February new year celebrations.

"We love it, we love educating and entertaining the community and each year we're growing," he said. 

"We're making lots of noise to ward off evil spirits."

The troupe will have five public performances on Sunday, including events at 11.45am on Bunda Street in Civic and at 2pm at the National Library of Australia. Mr Wong said this year was the busiest since the troupe began in 2007.

ACT Chinese Australian Association president Chin Wong said it was a special time of the year for those following the lunar calendar, with a week of preparation including cleaning and cooking leading up to New Year's Day on Monday. 

"The first day of the Lunar new year is for family, everyone makes wishes for each other; the second day is for friends; and the third day is what they call opening day, when the businesses open again."

Celebrations would be marked on Sunday night with a special dinner and various Chinese snacks, fruits and sweets, and for many a visit to the Buddhist temple. 

Ms Wong, who like the unrelated Mr Wong was born in Malaysia with Chinese heritage, said the new year events were the most significant of the three major celebrations originating from China. Superstition dictated many things were to be avoided on the first day, as it was believed these actions would continue through the year. 

"You don't sweep the floor on the first day, as you will sweep away your good luck, and if you owe people money you try to pay all your debts before Monday," she said.  

There were 6571 Chinese-born Canberra residents at the time of the last census in 2011, but nearly 11,000 residents spoke a Chinese language, making it the most common non-English language group.    

There were nearly 3000 residents born in Vietnam, 2198 from Malaysia and more than 1000 in Thailand, three of the other Asian countries which mark the lunar calendar.

Ms Wong said the people born in the Year of the Monkey were supposed to be active and problem solvers, but would not always deliver good outcomes and were also "a little bit suspicious".