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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Friday, January 23, 2004
    Year Of The Monkey
    We do Chinese New Year big in Liverpool. Though I'd temporarily forgotten it was The Year of The Monkey as soon as I stepped into the School for the Blind assembly this morning I knew. A parade of fantastic coloured dragons, shining costmes, masks and multi-sensory banners followed. Accompanied by wonderful chiming music and all manner of noodlish foods. This weekend our Chinatown will be hosting the traditional festivities including fireworks and a visit from the Chinese God of Wealth, the Chinese Lucky Man to bless everyone with luck in the coming year.

    It seems each year the city's establishment gets increasingly involved. This year the Merseyside Police Band are playing and Liverpool Museum are hosting several Chinese-theme workshops. They're responding to the greater numbers of the wider population who want to take part too. Ask most people which year it is we're celebrating, we couldn't say (it's year 4701 by the Chinese calendar). But ask next week who went down to the Peking Opera on Sunday and most people will know someone who did. Thousands will be on Berry Street for the big parade. Ask why ... because it's cheerful and its free, at a grey time of year it's colourful and bold, in a city still noted more for racial anxieties than success in multiculturalism it's exotic but unthreatening to the majority community.

    Ask why we celebrate Chinese New Year so enthusiastically here ... perhaps especially because we feel it's ours. This weekend is an expression of how the host community and the Chinese have embraced each other here (my blog of 6 Oct lists more). Among so many 'manufactured' cultural occasions springing up in Liverpool because of 2008, this seems a deeper, more genuinely hopeful sign.