Date: 08/01/2008 Category: Tourism
Rats are sometimes thought of as pests, but in February Medway will celebrate them as we join the Chinese community in welcoming the new year - the Year of the Rat. An exciting programme of traditional new year activities will be presented to mark the start of a new year in February. Activities start on Saturday, 9 February as the Medway and Foshan Lion teams dance to bring in the new year. The Medway Dragon and Lion Dance Drum Team will also be appearing as well as the Chatham based Dance Alley Dancers, who will be performing traditional Chinese dances in authentic Chinese costumes. Medway Council's Portfolio Holder for Strategic Development and Economic Growth Cllr Jane Chitty said: " Chinese New Year in Medway is a wonderful reflection of the active and vibrant Chinese community we have in the area. I look forward to it every year and this year is no exception. This very well established festival has been going, and gaining strength, for over 20 years and is very much appreciated not only by the considerably large Chinese community but all residents of Medway." The new year celebrations are as follows: Saturday, 9 February - Kong He Fat Choy 12noon – 1.30pm, Military Road, Chatham Welcome the Chinese New Year with music and dancing from the Medway Lion Dance Team, Foshan Lion Dance Team, Dance Alley Dancers and the Dragon and Lion Drum Team. There will also be a stall selling Chinese New Year decorations so that you can dress your home for the celebrations. Sunday, 17 February - Welcome the Year of the Rat 12noon, Chatham High Street The Mayor of Medway Cllr Val Goulden and guests from the Chinese Embassy will lead the Medway Chinese New Year parade to welcome the Year of the Rat. The Medway Chinese New Year parade is the largest parade in the south-east of England (after London). It will make its way from under the Sir John Hawkins Way flyover through Chatham High Street to the eastern end of the high street. The parade will include dragons, lions and with more than 150 people in Chinese costume this is set to be a colourful scene. 12.30 – 2.30pm, Chatham High Street near Tesco Chinese New Year entertainment from the Medway Dragon Dance Team, Medway Lion Dance Team, Foshan Lion Dance Team, Chinese Folk Dance with Dance Alley Dancers and the Dragon and Lion Drum Team. Did you know? People born in the Year of the Rat are said to be imaginative, charming and generous. Prior to New Year's Day, Chinese families decorate their homes with blossom, plates of oranges and tangerines. Many people do not eat meat on the first day of the new year; it is believed that this will ensure a long and happy life. On the second day the Chinese are extra kind to their dogs and feed them well as it is believed the second day is the birthday of all dogs. Flowers are symbols of wealth and success in your career. It is a lucky home with a plant that comes into bloom on New Year's Day as it tells a year of prosperity. A bag of oranges and tangerines and a lucky lai see envelope are ideal gifts when visiting family or friends.