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Chinese New Year
Brunei

Chinese New Year 2018 and 2019

Chinese New Year is a major public holiday in Brunei.

YearDateDayHoliday
201816 FebFriChinese New Year
17 FebSatChinese New Year Holiday
20195 FebTueChinese New Year

Just like in other areas where it is celebrated, Chinese New Year is observe in Brunei on the first day of the first month on the Chinese lunar calendar. Chinese New Year is widely celebrated because of Brunei’s large Chinese communities. Due to China’s history with Brunei, over 10 percent of the Bruneian population is Chinese through familial relations or migration. Chinese New Year is known for fun family gatherings and vibrant festivities. According to Chinese traditions, the New Year celebrations, or Spring Festival (春节), ward away misfortune and evil. The Chinese New Year celebrations also serve as a mechanism to keep families united during times of growth and change.

History of Chinese New Year in Brunei

In the past, Brunei was a major trading centre for Chinese merchants. From Brunei, Chinese people sold their products to markets throughout Asia. Brunei remained a centre of trade for China for a very long time. Eventually, Chinese merchants decided that it was more convenient to move their homes and families to Brunei instead of making long journeys. This caused a large quantity of Chinese people to call Brunei their home. In addition to bringing their families to Brunei, these Chinese immigrants also brought their customs and traditions. Chinese New Year was one of these traditions. Today, both Chinese and non-Chinese people celebrate Chinese New Year and the Spring Festival in Brunei.

Celebrations

In China, New Year celebrations can vary greatly depending on regions. Since many of the Chinese immigrants in Brunei came from various locations across China, many of the celebrations and customs have blended. People who celebrate Chinese New Year in Brunei can expect a unique medley of Chinese cultures and celebratory practices.

  • Parades

    One of the most obvious signs of the arrival of Chinese New Year is extravagant parades. On the evening of Chinese New Year, large parades are held in Brunei’s Chinatown (中国成). During the procession of these parades, spectators can expect to see floats, dancers, and costumes. These parades are also quite colorful; just about all of the decorations are colored with red fabric or paint. Gold is a common secondary color for these decorations. The use of the color red is based on Chinese traditions and myths. According to Chinese myths, the color red will ward away evil spirits and bring good fortune throughout the upcoming year. Traditionally, Chinese people also wear the color red during their birthday (生日) celebrations. Misfortune is also kept at bay through loud music, drums, and explosions. Spectators of Chinese New Year parades should be prepared to experience processions of bright colors and loud noises.

  • Lion and Dragon Dances

    In mainland China, dragon dances are a common way to celebrate the Chinese New Year in northern areas near Beijing. In southern areas of China, like Guangzhou and Hong Kong, lion dances are common. In the Chinese communities of Brunei, the dragon dance of the Han and the lion dance of the Cantonese are both used to celebrate the arrival of the lunar new year. This demonstrates a blending of Chinese cultures in Brunei. At these celebrations, dancers dress in the costumes of lions and dragons to bring good fortune. Firecrackers and drums often accompany their dance routines. Lion costumes are occupied by two dancers. Since the dragon costume is significantly larger than the lion costume, it is occupied by four dancers. Some spectators will reward dancers with a prize of money or candy after they have finished their dance routine.

  • Lanterns

    Oval-shaped lanterns that have been decorated with Chinese characters or art are common decorations in Chinese communities during Chinese New Year. Some people attach riddles to these lanterns as a challenge for passersby. People who are able to solve these riddles may receive a prize of money or candy. In addition to traditional lanterns, lanterns with contemporary artwork are also common. These kinds of lanterns have images of characters and symbols from popular media like video games and TV shows.

  • Spring Cleaning

    Chinese people in Brunei will often thoroughly clean their homes prior to the Chinese New Year celebrations. Traditionally, this pays respect to the ancestral spirits of a Chinese family. Today, the practice of spring cleaning allows people to clean up their homes and clear up any unfinished business. During this time, people are also expected to pay off their debts.

  • Cultural Events

    Chinese New Year is celebrated with many cultural events from across Chinese society. Dance performances, kung fu demonstrations, and beauty pageants are just a few of the many cultural celebrations that take place during the Spring Festival. One of the most popular dance performances is the dance of Guan Yin. This is an incredible dance performance that involves precise choreography by hearing impaired dancers.

Chinese New Year in Brunei is a public holiday that allows Chinese people to celebrate their cultural roots and spend time with family members.