On February 1, the Chinese community ushered in the Year of the Tiger with the beginning of the Lunar New Year. In China, Lunar New Year is known as the Spring Festival: it marks the beginning of spring and the time of planting, growth and new life.
The Diocese of Parramatta is the proud home of vibrant Mandarin and Cantonese communities, and while COVID-19 has meant some traditional celebrations have been delayed or cancelled, there were still opportunities to come together and celebrate family and prosperity.
For Chinese such as Norma Yeung, the chair of the Chinese Outreach Committee at Our Lady of the Angels Parish, Rouse Hill, Lunar New Year is a time for families to gather. “Traditionally, it’s the time when all walks of life can rest from their work”, she says. This opportunity for rest also requires planning in advance. “If you happen to be in a region celebrating Chinese New Year”, Norma says, “make sure you secure your meals prior to this date as there will be very few restaurants open for business.”
To celebrate New Year, Chinese families prepare special meals, dress in red, and prepare gifts of red envelopes with money for their children. Traditional lion dances are performed in the streets and shops as a sign of luck. The way in which families decorate their homes is also important. “We decorate our houses with plenty of flowers, as it is spring”, Norma says. “People also decorate their house’s entrance with couplets, or duilian, which include wishes of good luck and prosperity for the coming year.”
While prosperity and success are hallmark features of Lunar New Year celebrations, when asked what Lunar New Year is really about, Norma speaks of love and care. “It’s the time to show love through home visits or phone calls”, she says. “This is important especially during the pandemic, as people have been isolated for a long time.” She shares the following prayer as a reminder of God’s presence and guidance, especially in challenging times:
At the beginning of the year, we ask for the grace of the new year. We trust our Lord and dedicate the new year to You. We fervently pray that the Lord will take care of our present life and grant us prosperity throughout the year, bless the unity of our family and share the peace and happiness that You have given us, and Your mercy will make the year fruitful and prosperous.
We pray for the sanctification of virtue and seeking first the kingdom of God. Grant us to yearn for You with all our hearts, to spend the whole year in Your holy love, to strengthen our faith so that we may always rely on your blessing during the year, and live in peace, free from all dangers. Since the Lord is the Ruler of time and the Lord of eternal life, we pray for the last day of our death “Grant us peace in this world and eternal reunion with You in heaven”. Amen.
The Chinese community at Our Lady of the Angels, Rouse Hill will mark the New Year with a special Mass on 20 February 2022 at 3pm. More details to come.