This is not the normal New Year’s Festival, it is Chinese New Year… long and lucky like the dragon. Chinese New Year is celebrated by more than 20% of the world, and is the most important holiday in China… and Monaco has been chosen to be a focal point of the festivities.
We are moving from the Year of the Tiger to the Year of the Rabbit, a water rabbit that brings longevity, peace, and prosperity in Chinese Culture, which sets up 2023 as the year of hope. Just what we want after the turbulent year of the Tiger… 2022 certainly was that!
The calm Water Rabbit of 2023 is particularly associated with water helping trees to grow… fitting perfectly with Monaco’s love for the environment.
It never disappoints, the Dragon Dance, so colourful, so uniquely performed at the Hermitage …. and the dragon so so long. Did you know that means lots and lots of luck. The dance is an intricate motion that requires synchronized movements by the puppeteers with poles beneath the undulating body of the fearsome beast – a beast though that has a benevolent disposition. Great power, dignity, fertility and wisdom … that’s what we wish for in 2023. Monaco’s Chinese Festival dragon at the Hermitage bestows it on us with style.
The Dragon Dance had plenty of competition at the Hermitage with the dance show performed by the 1920’s style dancers in their shimmering outfits who danced like birds —gracefully and seductively flapping red fans like wings.
It all brought back the 20s craze with dancers called flappers except in the middle of the dance trio the dancer managed to pull off some extraordinarily tricky acrobatic gymnastic moves balanced on a discreetly placed apparatus …exquisite!
It was fascinating that in Shanghai after the Communist rule was well established there remained vestiges of jazz traditions of the past including jazz musicians. And the Hermitage also was alive with jazz like sounds, a saxophonist strutting his stuff with his saxophone blaring away as a key part of the musical entertainment.
The Uniquely Long Chinese New Year
New Year is clearly the most important event in the Chinese calendar marking the end of winter and the beginning of the spring season. The New Year always falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice. This year it falls on Sunday 22 January, according to the Chinese calendar marking the Lunar New Year with a celebration, and then its end 15 days later with the Lantern Festival.
Monaco Dragon Prestige and the Monaco-China Association
To celebrate it in the Principality, the impressive gala dinner at the Hermitage Belle Époque Salon on 24th January was organised by Monaco Dragon Prestige and the Monaco-China Association … and opened with a speech by the Her Excellency Ambassador of Monaco to China, Marie-Pascal Boisson.
HelloMonaco was there. It’s not an exaggeration to say the the festive meal prepared especially for this unique evening by renowned chefs was amazing. Traditional dishes are a must at Chinese New Year namely dishes with fish symbolizing “abundance”, as well as noodles symbolizing “longevity”, reimagined by renowned SBM chefs in a gastronomic Mediterranean meal with Asian flavors.
And a special part of the evening was the Fashion show – AMC Haute Couture Monaco. Quote by our fashion specialist “Seriously beautiful line, a very talented designer”
The whole festive evening was enjoyed by the numerous guests from the Principality’s and European and International political, economic and cultural spheres including representatives of the Chinese community from European countries who were delighted that Monaco had been chosen as a focal point of the celebrations.
A Little Bit of Folk Lore
According to legend, Chinese New Year started with a mythical beast called the Nian (a beast that lives under the sea or in the mountains) during the annual Spring Festival. The Nian would eat villagers, especially children in the middle of the night. One year, all the villagers decided to hide from the beast but an older man appeared and saved them.
This old man (wizard or deity) shooed away the beast with red paper hangings and setting off firecrackers. The villagers then understood that the Nian was afraid of the colour red and loud noises. Then the tradition grew when New Year was approaching that people would wear red clothes, hang red lanterns, and red spring scrolls on windows and doors and used firecrackers and drums to frighten away the Nian.
With all that red and entertaining loud noise at the Chinese New Year Festival at the Hermitage no Nian beast would dare enter Monaco!