Chinese New Year is one of the most widely celebrated festivals in the world today. While it has been a tradition carried on from thousands of years ago, 2018 was the first time I experienced the true nature of this world-renowned festivity.
This opportunity wouldn’t have been possible if not for my friends, who urged a group of first timers including myself, to join them on a trip to London to experience the color, cuisine and vibrancy of this spectacular festival.
Starting off from our Halls of Residence at Southampton a day prior to departing to London, our Chinese friends from Malaysia were kind enough to cook a meal for a few of us to celebrate the first day of the Lunar New Year. While it may not have been the traditional meal served in a Chinese household, it didn’t stop us from carrying out a couple of Chinese traditions such as “Yee Sang” and “Yam Seng” prior to having food.
The next day however, we were on the 6:15 coach to London to witness a much larger scale celebration with a plethora of people travelling to London for this phenomenon.
With the coach arriving at the Victoria Coach Station, we stopped by at the go-to places in London despite it not being our first time. Buckingham Palace, London Eye and The Big Ben to name a few.
After a scenic walk down the city of London, we made our way to China Town through Trafalgar Square which was absolutely packed not only with people, but decorations and festivities. Luckily for us, we were just in time for the Lion Dance, which signifies the act of “bringing good luck.” A significant part of the celebration was seeing the “Lion” visit each and every Chinese shop down the street of China Town with the aim of spreading good wishes and blessings to those respective outlets.
People from all over the United Kingdom had come over to witness the celebrations related to Chinese New Year, and it was amazing to see people of all ages and nationalities having a great time, dancing to the traditional music and eagerly capturing the colorful festivities on their smartphones and cameras.
It was the first time celebrating Chinese New Year away from home for most of my friends, and while it is usually experienced with family members and relatives, this year they got to celebrate it with a group of friends, better known as the “extended family” and share, not only the traditions but also the well wishes from one culture to another.