If you’ve ever been around China Town during Chinese New Year festivities, you’ll know that it’s a pretty big deal.
But trust me, the celebrations are not limited to China Town and are pretty much scattered all around the city. And Melbourne, with all of its multicultural spirit embraces it with open arms.
In western culture, ringing in the new year is a two-day max process. So it may come as a shock that Chinese New Year is a 16 day-long party. So bascially, it's a perfect reason to eat, drink and be merry.
All you need to know:
New Year’s Eve Dinner (which is low key a 12 course banquet)
The night is all about family coming together to eat ‘lucky foods’. A very important NYE food is fish. Eating fish is believed to bring an abundance of money and good luck for the coming year. It’s also super important to wear brand new clothes (here’s the green light to take yourself shopping).
These lil’ fiery babies make Chinese New Year seriously lit. They might be small but definitely pack a punch. The rule with these, is to set one small string of crackers off first, followed by three bigger ones. This symbolises ‘sounding out’ the old year and ‘sounding in’ the new year. The louder the crackers, the better and luckier the new year will be.
Referred to as Hong Bao in Chinese, these red packets are prepared in advance and are given out during New Year’s Eve dinner. It is customary for children to receive red packets from their elders. They generally contain money. The giving of money signifies wishing luck and fortune. From experience, these little red packets can contain some generous amounts of dosh - so as the saying goes, respect your elders.
As the lion in Chinese culture is a symbol of courage and superiority, the dance is performed to chase away ghosts and evil spirits. Hence why there is the clashing of percussion instruments and intense Kung Fu routines. I won’t lie, as a child these performances were kind of intimidating, but now I try to remind myself it’s a group of grown men prancing around in giant puppets.
Seriously Melbourne (and cool) things to do this Chinese New Year:
Eat choc-banana monkey buns at Din Tai Fung
Level 4 Emporium, CBD
The culinary geniuses at Din Tai Fung have created chocolate and banana-filled steam buns in the shape of monkey heads for our eating pleasure. These adorable monkey buns are limited and available only in February – run don’t walk people!
Hit the Age Lunar Markets at Docklands
Febuary 4-14, Harbour Esplanade, Docklands
If you loved the Night Noodle Markets, I’m pleased to tell you that the next best thing will be back waaay before November. For ten days the Harbour Esplanade will come alive with a street food inspired market. Featuring noodle-battered chicken burgers from Everybody Loves Ramen, Filipino skewers from Hoy Pinoy and of course the beloved roast pork belly buns from Wonderbao. There will also be mega big light-up installations. Sounds magical really.
Outdoor cinema in the heart of China Town
Febuary 7, Cohen Place
Grab your pals and check out the beanbag theatre that will pop up in China Town Square on New Year’s Eve. Various Asian short films will be screened throughout the night till the early hours of the morning.
Chinese inspired high tea at the Windsor
111 Spring Street, CBD
The Hotel Windsor have spun an oriental twist on their high tea classics. Think dim sum inspired pastries like lychee éclair and scallop toast. How does whipped organic tofu and chocolate sound for dessert?
KITKAT Studio exclusive Chinese New Year Bars
Melbourne Central, CBD
What’s better than exclusive KitKat bars? Yeah, nothing. Soz Sydney, the Melbourne Central pop-up store will be receiving 88 special bars which can be purchased for a steep price of $88. Each bar will contain Phoenix Oolong tea leaves sourced directly from the Guangdong Province of China, paired with delicate lychee and fragrant rose petals. To make sure the bar is actually worth $88, it will be dressed with 24k gold leaf with whole rose buds and rose jelly.
If you miss out on these (or would rather not splash the cash), you can purchase other Chinese-inspired flavours for the regular price of $6. They all sound hella delish. Tangerine Crème Brulee, Taro and Black Sesame, Red Bean and Toasted Coconut and Almond Cookie. Flavours are available throughout Feb.
Free cultural workshops
February 14, Russell Street
Do you love Chinese culture or want to know a little more? You should definitely get involved in the vast range of activities on offer. You’ll be exposed to traditional Chinese customs and pastimes including calligraphy, Mahjong, cooking demonstrations, feng shui and craft workshops, all for free!
So much to do, so much to see. Hey, at least you’ve got two weeks.