Islington celebrates Chinese New Year
With good wishes, lots of food and a traditional lion dance, hundreds of Islingtonians rang in the Year of the Sheep today.
The annual New Year celebration of the Islington Chinese Association drew around 300 visitors as well as the mayor of Islington, Cllr. Theresa Debono, to St. Gabriel’s Community Centre in Archway.
“It’s always great – I sort of had two new years, the British one and the Chinese one,” the mayor said after watching the first hour of festivities. She also made it clear which one she preferred. “I didn’t have much excitement for the first one, a few drinks and that’s it. This one’s just more interesting and exciting!”
The mayor was welcomed with a traditional lion dance and stayed for musical performances and New Year’s wishes recited by Euston Chinese School pupils. The young ones were entertained by a puppet show and happily took pictures with a dressed-up and colourful “Cai Shen” – the Chinese god of prosperity.
“It is important that we keep up traditions like Chinese New Year,” said Col. Brian Kay OBE, the chairman of the association and sheriff of the borough.
“We have quite a large number of Chinese in the borough, some who were born here and some who were born in Hong Kong or mainland China – but it’s important that we keep the youngsters aware of their heritage and that they have knowledge of Chinese history,” he added.
Stephen Ng, who helps run the association, was expecting around 500 guests but said the turnout was still satisfactory.
“Most fortunately, it was a fun day. We have old and young people, Chinese, non-Chinese – it’s a cultural year and we just hope to share the harmony and good fortune of the Year of the Sheep.”
He dismissed the confusion of some non-Chinese people who are unsure about whether this is the year of the sheep, goat or ram.
“It’s just the way you address it, it’s still the same kind of animal – some like it more masculine, some like it more sheepish, some want it to be more gentle, so it’s really [a question of] how you like to see it. It’s the same animal, it doesn’t matter.”
The day concluded with music and literature readings by the ICA Singing Group, as well as a Taiji circle demonstration, karaoke and dance.