There are approximately 300,000 Chinese South Africans, and this increasingly large number has led bigger and brighter celebrations for Chinese New Year to take place each year. There are a number of cities across the country which have special festivals and events for the occasion, and it is always a time of joy and revelry. The exact dates for Chinese New Year change each time, but it usually falls in the last few weeks of January or first few of February, depending on when the new moon appears.
In 2019, the Year of the Pig was initiated on the fifth of February when the new moon appeared. The Pig is the last in the twelve-year cycle of animals used in the Chinese Zodiac. People born in the Year of the Pig are said to be artistic, refined, intelligent, and well-mannered. Chinese New Year has become a time for people from a whole variety of different cultures to celebrate, as Chinese themes are often prevalent in popular culture. China has been used frequently in the gaming industry, for instance. In 2016, the first episode of Assassin’s Creed Chronicles was set in the Asian country, while Namco’s Tekken series has always featured a China level. The Chinese Zodiac seems to be popular in Western culture now as well, with games like Pig’s Feast at Buzz Bingo referencing the latest year in the calendar.
In South Africa, it certainly isn’t just Chinese people who took part in the festivities at the start of February. Every year, partygoers flock to the main areas, which are renowned for putting on the best events. Johannesburg is one of the top spots to go to for the annual celebrations, as the vibrant city has one of the biggest and most active Chinese communities in the country. The noisy and colourful festivities take place in a number of different locations across the city, including New Chinatown in Cyrildene and First Chinatown in the city centre. There are also a number of other events that go on around the time of Chinese New Year. For example, this year, there was a Chinese Cultural Festival at Nan Hua Temple. The temple located in Bronkhorstspruit was donated by Taiwanese Buddhists and is the largest Buddhist temple in the southern hemisphere. At the temple during Chinese New Year, there are activities which go on throughout the day for many days. These are fun for the whole family and include martial arts displays and large selections of Chinese, Cantonese, and Taiwanese cuisine.
Chinese New Year is a joyous celebration in South Africa which is getting bigger every year. If you haven’t yet managed to experience the loud and unique performances which occur, such as the dragons being paraded down the streets, you really should think about getting down to an event next year. Don’t forget to check the Chinese calendar to see which date it falls on, and arrange your plans accordingly.