Over eighty people celebrated the Year of the Horse at the Golden Palace Restaurant on 2 February. This took the form of a banquet meal, and was the first function of 2014 held by the Timaru Branch of the New Zealand China Friendship Society. Adults and children enjoyed renewing friendships, taking part in raffles, and finding ‘lucky money’ in red envelopes. One of the children won the major raffle prize.
We were honoured by the presence of two staff members from the Chinese Consulate in Christchurch. They brought with them magazines (The Beijing Review, an English language publication), and a large number of small, illustrated books about the New Year for children and adults to share.
In China this time is known as ‘The Spring Festival’, and people say to each other ‘Gongxi Facai’, which means ‘May you be happy and prosperous’. Balloons and decorations are hung, and dumplings, to recognize family unity, are enjoyed at homes. Fireworks are often present. The Spring Festival, with its different activities on fourteen days, is celebrated by both Chinese and other ethnic groups throughout Asia.
People born in the year of the horse are cheerful and clever with money. They are wise, good with their hands, and enjoy the opposite sex. They are sometimes hot blooded and impatient. They are natural entertainers and enjoy a large crowd.
This year the Timaru Branch has made two commitments – firstly, to continue its contribution to the training of rural nurses in China; and secondly with the support of the Confucius Institute, to promote the teaching of Chinese language and culture in South Canterbury schools.