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Celebrating Chinese New Year in Edinburgh

The past couple of weeks in Edinburgh has seen unique and vibrant celebrations throughout the city in honour of the Chinese New Year. This annual event, rich in cultural significance and joyous traditions, brings together locals and visitors alike to revel in the spirit of renewal and good fortune. So, join us, as we welcome the Year of the Dragon!

 


Celebrating Chinese New Year


Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is one of the most significant and festive celebrations in Chinese culture. It marks the beginning of the lunar new year and is a time for family reunions, honouring ancestors, and welcoming good fortune.


One of the most iconic customs during Chinese New Year is the reunion dinner on New Year's Eve. Families gather to enjoy a lavish feast featuring dishes that symbolize prosperity, longevity, and good luck. Red decorations are important, as red is believed to bring good fortune and ward off evil spirits. Additionally, lion and dragon dances, fireworks, and parades are often seen during Chinese New Year celebrations to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck for the upcoming year.


The Significance Year of the Dragon


The Year of the Dragon holds immense significance in Chinese culture, symbolizing power, strength, and good fortune. Dragons are revered creatures in Chinese mythology, representing wisdom, strength, longevity, and prosperity. Those born in the Year of the Dragon are believed to inherit these noble traits, making them highly esteemed individuals within Chinese society.


The dragon is the only mythical creature among the twelve Chinese zodiac signs. It is associated with the emperor and is considered a symbol of imperial power. As a result, the Year of the Dragon is often considered an auspicious time for new beginnings, success, and achievements. Many Chinese families plan important events, such as weddings or starting a business, during this time to harness the positive energy associated with the dragon.


Moreover, the Year of the Dragon occurs once every twelve years, adding to its rarity and allure. It is a time of great excitement and optimism, as we look forward to the promise of new opportunities and blessings that this special year brings.



Additionally, the Chinese zodiac alternates between the five fundamental elements- wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. This year, the dragon inhabits the wood element, which represents development and achievement. Therefore, to be more specific, 2024 is the Year of the Wood Dragon.


As many of you dear readers know, last year was a very difficult one for the Wee Walking Tours family. Therefore, we hope that we can gain some of the strength associated with the Year of the Dragon. With this in mind, let’s join in the celebrations around Edinburgh. Also, keep your eye out for the Wee Walking Tours’ dragon who will help guide you on our Chinese New Year journey around the city!


Kicking off the Festivities

 

Edinburgh's Chinese New Year festivities are numerous and last for almost two weeks! This year there were events held throughout the city and included lively street performances, mesmerizing dragon dances, bilingual ceilidhs, tai chi sessions, calligraphy lessons, paper cutting and lantern making sessions, and delightful musical presentations.

 

The festivities kicked off at the foot of the Mound- just outside the Scottish National Gallery. Despite the rain, we found ourselves mesmerised by the drums, dragon dances, and traditional dance performances. Here are some pictures from the celebrations:



A few days later, we were entertained with more dragon dances and New Year’s celebrations at St James’ Quarter. Look carefully because one little girl managed to 'tame' the dragon!

 


Chinese New Year Concert at Usher Hall

 

Every year, Usher Hall hosts a beautiful Chinese New Year concert, and we were fortunate to attend this year’s which was held on the first official day of the Year of the Dragon (10 February). Before the concert started, we were entertained by dragon dances along with a pipes and drums band in front of Usher Hall (see photo at the beginning of this post and more below).





Once inside the venue (which we last visited for a Johnny Cash tribute concert), we enjoyed an evening of Chinese and Scottish music. There were some incredible musicians and performers including the Edinburgh Symphony Orchestra, Peking Opera (which combines musical, vocal, and dance performances), a 12-year-old organ virtuoso, and Highland dancing from the Gordon School of Dancing, Montrose.

 




After our concert, we took an evening stroll through the fog and mist. We were guided by the Wee Walking Tours dragon and the glowing red colours from Edinburgh Castle and Camera Obscura- lit up in celebration of the Chinese New Year (scroll through the photos below).

 


Celebrating at the Royal Botanic Gardens

 

Our Chinese New Year celebrations finished with a stunning Chinese New Years Concert at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh which was hosted by Heriot-Watt University’s Scottish Confucius Institute for Business & Communication. Before the concert they had a lovely little reception that included tea, prizes, and calligraphy.



Once the concert started, we were delighted to take in several musical selections from the Rainbow Musical Society of Tianjin University of Finance & Economics.

 


The musicians (who were all skilled on multiple instruments) played on a variety of traditional Chinese instruments and it was fascinating to watch. In fact, as you watch the video clip below from the end of the concert, listen carefully as they start off by playing a traditional Chinese song from folklore but transition to the Scottish classic, Auld Lang Syne.



Whether you're exploring the enchanting performances, partaking in traditional rituals, or simply immersing yourself in the festive spirit, celebrating Chinese New Year in Edinburgh is a delightful experience that showcases the beauty of cultural diversity and unity. Next year, we encourage you to join in the revelry, embrace the traditions, and welcome the Lunar New Year with open arms in the heart of Scotland's capital.

 

Happy Chinese New Year and may the Year of the Dragon bring you all great joy, prosperity, and health!

 

Until next time- Explore & Discover!

 


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