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Feb 7, 2011

Chinese celebrate Lunar New Year at the Princess Hotel

The Chinese community turned out in record numbers for their lunar New Year celebrations at the Princess Hotel in Belize City. The occasion was festive; there was the traditional dragon dance as well as performances by a local Garifuna band. A thirteen meal course, Chinese style, topped off the celebrations. 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit, which means that persons born in this particular year are affectionate, wise and have strong family values which are some of the characteristics of the rabbit. News Five’s Marion Ali reports.

Marion Ali, Reporting

If you were near the Princess Hotel and Casino on Sunday afternoon and saw members of the Belize Chinese Community in full regalia, they weren’t getting ready for their famous dragon dance in September.  It was the official start of the Chinese New Year for 2011, which actually began on Thursday.

Sunday’s event started off with the traditional dragon dance, a spectacle prominently featuring red for the occasion.

There were notable officials in attendance at the celebration, including the Governor General, Sir Colville Young, Prime Minister Dean Barrow, other Ministers of Government and dignitaries.

Chief on the agenda was an hour-long presentation by local Garifuna dancers, which this year featured a Chinese girl dancing to the drums, and Ozzie the clown, shared some new tricks with the kiddies.

According to ancient Chinese tradition, this is the year of the rabbit, and the Zodiac calendar, which is different from the solar calendar that we use, places occasions, such as New Year’s, on different dates every year.

Edmund Kuan, Pres., Belize Chinese Assn.

“Chinese is based on a thirty-day month, twelve month per year calendar.  And sometime they have double month, so like they might have a double May, they might have a double June or double March, whatever it is. The solar calendar, which is the international calendar, that one is based on three hundred and sixty five days, while the Chinese one is three hundred and sixty.  So every year it changes, every year it differs.  And it usually falls at end of January, February, March, basically those three months.”

Edmund Kuan

President of the Belize Chinese Association, Edmund Kuan, told News Five that the organization comprises younger members now and this is something he feels good about.

Edmund Kuan

“We have more younger people coming out to voluntarily help cause we don’t make a penny, you know.  We just volunteer ourselves to the community and we have gained a lot of respect by different departments.  Many people do ask us to do translations; our translations is valid in court.  So we have moved a very far way. Like how I said, we have a branch in every district right now.”

But along with the achievements is the need for restoration of culture.

Edmund Kuan

“You come to a different society and you must blend in.  I was born here, but if someone comes to Belize they obviously need to learn to speak English to blend in.  During that process, you will forget some of your traditional culture and adapt Belizean culture.”

Marion Ali

“And this is the year of the…”

Edmund Kuan

“Rabbit.”

Marion Ali

“Which means?”

Edmund Kuan

“I think Mister Lo just said it. Actually I didn’t know, I didn’t know.”

Marion Ali

“You’re losing the culture.”

Edmund Kuan

“Yeah, I’m losing the culture, yeah.  (Laughs)”

The year of the rabbit is descriptive of the animal itself and stands for wisdom, and tranquility.  To all our Belizean Chinese, Happy New Year – San Lin Fylo! Reporting for News Five, I am Marion Ali.

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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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