Dubai: Chinese expatriates in Dubai welcomed the “extra special” Chinese New Year on Friday hoping for prosperity, good health, more wealth and success for themselves, family and friends.
The New Year began on Friday, as per the Chinese lunar calendar, and the celebrations will run until March 3.
Also known as the Spring Festival, the Chinese New Year is the largest and most important traditional holiday among the Chinese.
The scenario was not any different in Dubai as parts of the city were also dressed up in red and gold with Dragon Marts 1 and 2, Downtown Dubai, Meraas destinations like City Walk and The Box Park, even Dubai Airports and Dubai Parks and Resort taking part in the celebrations to welcome the Year of the Dog.
This is the reason why the Chinese New Year is extra special this year for Xiao Xia Yan, a businesswoman at Dragon Mart 2.
“The Chinese New Year celebration this year in Dubai is different as there are a lot of places taking part in the celebrations so it’s more citywide. We will not be closing our shops but I will let my non-Chinese staff stay so I can enjoy the holiday with my family,” Xiao, who sells wigs and make-up, told Gulf News.
Xiao said the New Year’s Eve dinner is an important part of the Chinese tradition as it is their time to spend with family while watching the broadcast of CCTV’s (China Central Television’s) Spring Festival Gala from back home.
“It is also the time when we exchange our greetings with our family, give hongbao (Mandarin for monetary gift in a red envelop) to children, which we can do electronically now, and just stay together,” Xiao said.
On the menu were steamed whole fish, rice cakes, and many more.
“The word for fish, yu, means abundance or having leftover or surplus. So eating fish on the first day of the New Year is like saying we will have surplus throughout the year,” Xiao explained, adding, “It is my wish to have a good year for our business.”
The same is the New Year wish of Kenny Huang, a businessman also at Dragon Mart 2.
“My wish for the New Year is good business, good health, and for me to be able to take life with a positive attitude. I also hope that my partner will love me more than before,” said the expatriate from Guangzhou in southern China.
For Filipino-Chinese Ericson Reyes, celebrating the New Year away from family is a bit of a challenge. Born to a Chinese dad and a Filipino mum, Reyes said his family made sure to preserve their traditions growing up.
“There is a big difference in the way we celebrate the Chinese New Year here and in the Philippines. At home we would wear traditional Chinese clothing and visit a Chinese temple before setting off firecrackers to welcome the year. We would also give gifts, mainly money in red envelopes, which we call ampaw. We honour our ancestors by lighting candles and burning incense and we gather with the rest of the family and enjoy some Chinese sweets,” the banker told Gulf News.
Reyes said he hopes for good health and prosperity for his family for the New Year.
Zheng Sheng, another businessman, said he hopes the Year of the Dog would bring him good luck and good business opportunities.