Lunar New Year is the observance of the start of a new year in a lunar or lunisolar calendar. Lunar calendars consisting of 12 months, each month corresponding roughly to one cycle of the moon, have been used by several peoples throughout history, including many Asian cultures as well as Muslims and Jews. A number of different Lunar New Year festivals are held throughout the world.
This year we were lucky enough to experience the Lunar New Year in Sydney. With it's close proximity to Asia, Sydney boasts a rich oriental culture making it the ideal place to celebrate such a famous festival.
Our first stop was the infamous Chinatown which became an icon of multiculturalism in the 1970's. Dixon Street was closed to traffic and given a “uniquely Chinese” makeover. The two ceremonial arches that marked the area as “Chinatown” were erected in 1980.
Today, Chinatown is one of Sydney’s most visited tourist attractions, spreading way beyond its Dixon Street core. The population has grown significantly, whereby tall apartment blocks have emerged at World Square and Market City. The area is home to a huge number of international students - in fact in 2011, one third of the population in Chinatown Haymarket was in Sydney to study. Other than those from China and Hong Kong, many residents also come from Thailand, Indonesia, Korea, Taiwan and so forth.
We enjoyed some delicious Chinese food just off Dixon Street, and watched a traditional Lion Dance:
The Rocks is a famous neighbourhood of historic laneways located in the shadow of Sydney Harbour Bridge. Locals and tourists mingle at the open-air Rocks Markets, purchasing street food and handmade fashions. During the Lunar New Year Festival, The usually-quaint Rocks is draped in vivid Asian adornments. We took a stroll down the cobblestoned lanes and marvelled in the sights and scents of the market stalls:
2020 is the Year of the Rat. Though people don't consider the rat to be adorable, it ranks first on the Chinese zodiac signs, meaning that the year of the Rat is the year of renewal. The rat has characteristics of an animal with spirit, wit, alertness, delicacy, flexibility and vitality. It is said that people born in the year of Rat will have good fortune in wealth and careers for 2020 (we learned that we are "rats" - lucky us!)
We wish you good luck and prosperity in the Year of the Rat!
PS - If you need somewhere to stay during the Lunar Festival, check out Manly Designer Studios :)