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Jan 31, 2017

Chinese Community Says Happy New Year!

The Chinese zodiac is divided into twelve blocks just like the western astrological calendar, but the major difference being that each block covers a period of one year instead of one month.  This year, it’s the Year of the Rooster, the tenth animal in the cycle.  People born in the Year of the Rooster are described as honest, energetic, intelligent, flexible and confident.  According to Chinese astrology, however, the year of your sign is believed to be one of the most unlucky years of life.  The study of planets and human behavior aside, the Chinese New Year is a time for celebration and looking ahead.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano speaks with prominent members of the Chinese community.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The first day of the Chinese New Year was celebrated on Saturday, January twenty-eighth.  Also known as the Spring Festival, members of the local Chinese community took to the streets of Belize City to celebrate the occasion, lighting firecrackers and performing traditional dances.


Edmund Quan

Edmund Quan, President, Belize Chinese Association

“We had the Lion Dance Parade.  We paraded through fifty stores, Chinese establishments, some of them half too.  We did the lion dance which signifies prosperity and chase away the evil spirits.  It’s just a cultural thing that we try to preserve among the Chinese community and also to let the general public have an idea of our culture.”


During the dance the performer mimics a lion’s movements and is accompanied by the music of beating drums, cymbals and gongs.  These instruments synchronize to the lion dance movements and actions.  The costumes used in these performances can only be custom made in specialty craft shops in rural parts of China and have to be imported at great cost for most foreign countries outside of Asia.


This is the Year of the Rooster.


Lee Mark Chang

Lee Mark Chang, President of the Senate

“The Chinese New Year runs differently than the so-called Western calendar.  They are run by a lunar calendar so every year the Chinese New Year falls on a different date.  The lunar calendar is based [on the fact] that they want to know when they are going to plant their seeds and stuff like that, you know.  It’s part of the culture.”


The Chinese culture is one of the world’s oldest cultures, tracing back thousands of years ago.  In Belize, the first record of our friends from the Far East dates back to the 1800s.


Lee Mark Chang

“The Chinese have been here as early as the late 1800s, based on the history that I know of, and most of them came as indentured workers.  I think it was in the 1920s and 30s when a lot of them came and they worked on the sugar plantation in Belize and also a lot of them made their way to Panama.  I believe also that a lot of them didn’t like the harsh environment of Panama when they were building the canal and a lot of them headed north and hence the reason why you have a lot of Chinese from the southern part of China all along Central and South America.”


Those who have chosen to make Belize their home continue to participate in the development of the country from a socioeconomic standpoint.  Edmund Quan is the Chairman of the Belize Chinese Association.


Edmund Quan

“They don’t really participate on the national level but they do contribute to the tax system.  All businesses pay their liquor licenses, their trade licenses.  I have heard a lot of times from the city council and so that the Chinese are the best customers.  They don’t argue with you, they just pay it and they move on.  They’re business people, they’re not here to fight or argue or something, the country needs their fair share or the city council, you know.  They will pay it and then they conduct their business.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.


The next Year of the Rooster will be in 2029.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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