City turns on the style for Chinese New Year

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Deck the halls... with Chinese lanterns – Sheffield’s Chinese community has been gearing up for New Year celebrations for weeks.

The dumplings are prepared, the glitzy outfits are out of the wardrobe and the sky lanterns are ready to be lit.

Wanlin Steele (front, right) and her Wanlin Dance School dancers.

Wanlin Steele (front, right) and her Wanlin Dance School dancers.

And with just as much food, fun and family time planned as most Sheffielders enjoy over the Christmas period, it is set to be a good one.

Chinese New Year is officially today – but the celebrations will continue until the lantern festival in mid February and include a big celebration at Sheffield City Hall on Tuesday.

Tak Liu, treasurer of the Sheffield Chinese Community Centre, on London Road, Highfield, said the festivities are nowhere near as big in Sheffield as they are in Hong Kong and China –but with an estimated 15,000 Chinese people living in the Steel City, they are still looking forward to welcoming the Year of the Horse in style.

Tak, who was born in Britain after his parents moved here from Hong Kong, said: “The New Year is important for people from China because they see it as one thing stopping and a fresh year starting.

“It’s a turning point for the Chinese community. Families get together and they come from miles and miles away to be with their parents or other family members and take the opportunity to celebrate.”

The Chinese New Year is a traditional holiday celebrated on the first day of the Chinese calendar year.

Chinese customs and traditions vary according to which part of China you are from, but many people exchange money in paper envelopes, while others decorate their homes with lanterns.

Tak said his family’s traditions include exchanging clementines – a lucky fruit – and buying new outfits.

He said: “We start the year by wearing new clothes. Everything has to be new to symbolise the new start.

“You have a meal with your family and there are traditions like you can’t sweep the floor during the New Year celebrations because you are sweeping away your luck.”

As the country is so vast, the different provinces have different traditional foods. But Tak, who owns the Hui Wei restaurant on West Street, Sheffield, said most have a feast which comprises meat, fish and soup dishes.

As Sheffield is not quite geared up for the New Year in the same way as Hong Kong and China, the Chinese community has organised its own spectacular event at the City Hall.

Featuring a host of talented performers, it is a chance for the Chinese community to get together and for the non-Chinese community to get a taste of what Chinese New Year is all about.

Among the performers is conservation worker Sophia Liu, of the Wanlin Dance School. The 25-year-old, from South-West China, said: “In my hometown in China everybody will have started preparing lanterns weeks ago.”