Celebrate the Chinese new year in Reunion Island

Categories Culture, La Reunion
Entrée de lanternes de l'école franco-chinoise pour la célébration du nouvel an chinois

Participate Chinese new year festivities!

Be immersed in La Reunion’s culture, Chinese celebrations

This year, in 2017, we are celebrating the Fire Rooster Year ! As we are not professional of the occidental astrology, we won’t try to explain the signification of the fire rooster sign. But the 12 Chinese signs are : Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Dog and Pig. If you want to know your Chinese sign, go on : find your Chinese sign! Personaly, we are Tiger and Ox.

Traditional foulard dance for the Chinese New Year celebrations in La Reunion

The 28th of January was the official day of the chinese new year. But during 2 weeks (from the 28th of January to the 12th of February), the Chinese new year festivities took place in La Reunion. You could attend to:

  • Traditional Chinese folk arts shows
  • Dances’shows (folk dance, flower-drum lap dance, festive lantern dance) and the very well known : Lion and Dragon dances
  • Release lanterns into the sky and fire works
  • Culinary workshops and cantonese rice eating contests
  • Traditional music and martial arts shows

In short, everything you need to be immersed in Chinese traditions for one afternoon or one weekend.

Red chinese lanterns in the entrance of the Chinese school dance in Saint-Paul

Celebrate Fire Rooster Year in Saint-Paul

Many towns organize the Chinese new year. Saint-Pierre, Saint-Leu, Saint-Paul, Saint-André and many others. Regarding us, we choose to go to the Saint-Paul Franco-Chinese school’s ceremony. On the « Chaussée Royale » road, that leads to Savannah.

Facing the entrance, we are on time for the festivities. You can have no doubts. The building and its inner courtyard are full of lanterns, garlands, Chinese umbrellas. We are invited to go inside. Once we have crossed the « gate » there are different stands around the main scene:

  • Chinese shops. With jade neckless, dragons figurines, and other animals representing the 12 chinese zodiac signs. Traditional Chinese clothes and Manaki-neko key rings (japanese lucky charm cat, adopted in china and called « zhao cai mao »… with the right or left hand up… the meaning is different.
  • Mahjong players, seriously gathered around the board game.
  • Chinese food stands. Paw, assortment of steamed meat specialties, gyoza, lucky Chinese vermicelli with ginger, shrimps or pork… All you need to be ready for the Chinese celebrations, and to enjoy the show.

Chinese figurines representing chinesezodiac signs animals, tiger dragon, rabbit, ox...

Chinese dance school evening in Saint-Paul

From 7 pm to 10 pm, there were plenty of dances and shows. Lanterns and other dances, karate shows with masters and black belts students. All of this with traditional music, modern or not (very modern during the kata demonstration). Sometimes, we felt just as if we were watching a manga (Japanese comics), like Dragon Ball Z. A true jump into childhood!

Karate Black belts students doing an art martial demonstration

During this party, you can truly see that Chinese dance schools totally represent the Reunion Island diversity. On the stage, you can see little Chinese girls, of course. But also mixed-race children: Creole, “Yab”(white Creole), “Zoreil”(white from continental France)…and even a little “Kaf”(black people from Reunion Island). A beautiful mix that warms your heart and shows the open-mindedness of people from Reunion regarding other cultures and religions.

Traditional Chinese dance during the Chinese New Year celebrations in Saint-Paul

La Reunion, a place of mixed cultures

It’s real that Reunion Island is very rich from its diversity. Creoles from Reunion come from different origins. Malagasy, Tamoul, Arab, Indian, Chinese people, African, continental French… this mix created a unique place where people share easily their culture.

You can find Chinese temples, but also mosques, churches and even some synagogues.  To get closer and learn more about our neighbors’ origins and traditions, many towns organize events opened to everyone. Dipavali (light celebration for Indian people and Tamouls), firewalk (Hindus’ celebration), or even the Chinese new year.

Diversity and mixity in a Chinese dance school from La Reunion

How to participate to the Chinese new year?

Practical information

You can find Chinese New Year celebrations on the whole island. Free events, organized evening reception… To be informed about the Chinese New Year’s programs in the different towns of La Reunion, you can:

  • Get information via some events websites of La Reunion. Like azenda.re
  • Directly with the tourism offices (but you’ll be obliged to drive around the whole island to see what is happening in every town).
  • Or you can also, and it’s our choice, go on the different tourism offices’ websites. They should be updated with all the details.
    • West: for Saint-Leu, La Saline, Saint-Gilles, Saint-Paul, Le Port, and Mafate circus… go on: https://www.ouest-lareunion.com/accueil
    • South: for Saint-Pierre, Etang-Salé, Les Avirons, Saint-Louis, l’Entre-Deux, Le Tampon, Saint-Joseph, Petite-Île, Saint-Philippe ans Cilaos circus… go on: http://sud.reunion.fr/
    • North: for Saint-Denis, Sainte-Marie and Sainte-Suzanne… go on: http://www.lebeaupays.com/
    • East: for Saint-André, Sainte-Anne, Saint-Benoît, Bras Panon, Sainte-Rose, La Plaine des Palmistes and Salazie circus… go on: http://est.reunion.fr/

To know the way facing you, ask to those who come back. Chinese proverb.

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