Continuing my Family Traditions in Manchester for Chinese New Year

by | Feb 12, 2024 | Criminology and Law, Politics, Philosophy and Economics, Sociology, Social Anthropology and Social Statistics | 0 comments

Growing up in Malaysia, where the Lunar New Year is steeped in centuries-old traditions and familial bonds for the Chinese community, I have always eagerly anticipated the sights, sounds, and flavours of this festive occasion every year. But most importantly, I cherished the sense of togetherness that comes from reuniting with family and friends.

Red envelopes. Glowing lanterns. The relentless noise of fireworks. Endless laughter and conversations over a table full of family members’ homecooked dishes. These are just a glimpse of what makes the Lunar New Year a cherished celebration for me. Celebrating Lunar New Year in Manchester is indeed different from the grand festivities and traditions I am accustomed to back home. As I enter my final semester at university, I still long to be home as Lunar New Year spirit and festivities commence. Nonetheless, I’ve learned ways to spend the auspicious occasion away from home meaningfully and enrichingly.

Here are a few of my favourite ways to immerse myself in the Lunar New Year festivities in Manchester:

1. Exploring The Heart of Chinatown
No Lunar New Year celebration is complete without immersing oneself in the vibrant energy of Chinatown. As the festive season approaches, anticipation fills the air, and the city is bustling with excitement. Vibrant decorations adorn Chinatown and its surrounding neighbourhoods, with red lanterns gently swaying in the breeze, symbolising luck and prosperity. Asian grocery stores bustle with patrons making last-minute purchases, creating a lively atmosphere reminiscent of the celebrations back home.

My favourite time to visit Chinatown is during the first week of Lunar New Year celebrations. Here, families gather to watch the mesmerising Dragon Parade, accompanied by the 12 zodiac animals, traditional lion dances and other captivating cultural performances. Additionally, bustling fun fairs and street food stalls line the pathways, transforming Chinatown into a vibrant hub of activity.

Just by strolling through Chinatown, I feel a sense of connection to my roots and a comforting reminder of home.

2. Festive Food Hunting
One of my favourite ways to celebrate Lunar New Year in Manchester is by indulging in the culinary delights that the city has to offer. Despite being far from home, I’m fortunate to have discovered authentic Chinese restaurants and eateries scattered throughout Manchester. From mouth-watering dim sum and steamed buns at Only Yu to the sumptuous hotpot offerings at No.8 Hotpot and the legendary roast duck from Happy Seasons, these culinary gems never fail to surprise me with the flavours resembling home. After all, what’s a celebration without familiar comfort food? During the festive season, these eateries undergo a magical transformation, adorned with vibrant red and gold decorations while the air is filled with cheerful Lunar New Year music. This enchanting ambience adds an extra layer of joy and excitement to the dining experience, elevating it to a truly memorable occasion for me.

3. Recreating the Nostalgia of Home with Fellow International Students
Back in Malaysia, the Lunar New Year was a time of joyous reunions with my family, where we would engage in endless conversations over the dining table. However, amidst the distance from home, I found solace in the camaraderie of fellow Malaysian students who shared a mutual yearning for the comforts of home. Together, we organise a Lunar New Year gathering every year, trying our best to recreate the nostalgic ambience of our hometowns within our temporary abode. Donned in vibrantly coloured attire, we prepare traditional dishes, engage in fun card games, and engage in late-night conversations that echo the warmth of family gatherings. As we share homemade dishes and exchange stories of our own unique family traditions, we not only ease our homesickness but also forge bonds and create lasting memories that will accompany us for years to come. Gathering with friends over a hearty Lunar New Year feast has become a cherished tradition, reminding me of the joy found in the companionship of loved ones and the shared experience of cultural heritage.

4. Immersing in Cultural Activities across the City

Another highlight of celebrating Lunar New Year in Manchester is attending the diverse array of cultural events and festivities organised throughout the city. From Lunar New Year-themed society events and cultural get-togethers on campus to lively celebratory performances and craft fairs in the city centre, there’s a plethora of activities to immerse oneself in. These events not only showcase the rich cultural heritage of the Chinese community but also provide an opportunity for people from all walks of life and nationalities to come together and revel in the spirit of diversity and unity. Personally, I find joy in strolling through streets adorned with vibrant red lanterns and

admiring the intricate decorations adorning eateries, residences, and public spaces. These visual delights fill my heart with warmth and add to the festive ambience during the joyous season.

Despite the distance from my family, celebrating Lunar New Year in Manchester has taught me the importance of creating new traditions and forging connections with the local community. Whether it’s hosting a potluck dinner with fellow international students, participating in cultural workshops, or simply exchanging festive greetings with neighbours, these small gestures help me feel a sense of belonging and warmth during this special time of year.

I’ve come to realise that the spirit of Lunar New Year remains the same, regardless of where it’s celebrated. It’s a time for renewal, hope, and the sharing of love and good fortune. As we enter the year of the dragon, I am excited to make the most out of my next Lunar New Year celebration in this city while being grateful for the opportunities it has provided for personal growth and cultural enrichment.

Written by Yu Jie Chua (3rd and Final Year BSc Economics student)