Chinese New Year 2017

On Sunday 29th January 2017 Liverpool celebrated the Year of the Rooster in Liverpool’s Chinatown. There were the usual street performances and also this year a family workshop, art installations, parades and of course the popular Chinese market on George Street selling gifts, souvenirs and Chinese food.

Liverpool is home to a substantial Chinese community who have been celebrating the Chinese New Year in the city for years. The famous Dragon and Lion dance paraded through the streets of the city. The purpose of this tradition is to remove any negativity which you may have accumulated during the year, and to begin the New Year filled with positivity. Traditional red lanterns, (red chases away the bad omens and ensures that the New Year gets off to a good start) are placed in the streets of all the cities in China and can also be seen in Liverpool in Nelson Street and the surrounding area during the week long celebrations.

According to traditional Chinese belief, the lion signifies courage, stability and superiority. The lion’s dance is performed to chase away ghosts and evil spirits, and since the monsters, ghosts, evil spirits and giants like Nian are afraid of loud noises, the dance has become a natural complement to the fire crackers' noise. Clashing cymbals, a gong and drums usually accompany this lively scene. The lion’s every movement has a specific musical rhythm. The music follows the moves of the lion, the drum follows the lion, the cymbals and the gong follow the drum player. Throughout the performance, the Lion will mimic various moods and demonstrate similar physical gestures allowing the Lion to look life-like.

The lion dance combines art, history and kung fu moves. Normally the performers are kung fu practitioners, and a group of Lion Dancers consist of about 10 people. The dramatic climax of the Lion Dance is the "Cai Qing" or 'Picking the Green'. The green here refers to vegetable leaves which are tied to a piece of string which also has a red packet attached containing money. The string is hung above the door of the business, shop (or home), and the lion 'eats' both, the leaves and the red packet. The leaves are 'chewed' by the lion while the musicians play a dramatic rolling crescendo. The lull is broken as the lion explodes back into activity, spitting out the leaves. This is a symbolic act of blessing by the lion, with the spitting out of the leaves signifying that there will be an abundance of everything in the coming year.

Below are a selection of photographs from this year’s celebrations…

Click on an image to view full size in 'Lightbox' (tm)

Photographs © Bob Edwards Picture Liverpool