2011: the year Hastings held its first ever Chinese new year celebrations

Chinese New Year celebration at Priory Meadow, 13/2/11 ENGSNL00120110214074035
Chinese New Year celebration at Priory Meadow, 13/2/11 ENGSNL00120110214074035

Looking back on an event which would go on to become a colourfully new Hastings tradition

All the way back in 2011, when Hastings held it’s first ever Lunar New Year celebrations in Priory Meadow shopping centre, Michelle Foo, then head of the Hastings Chinese Association, said she hoped Chinese new year would become a regular part of the Hastings calendar.

That year’s event, which celebrated the year of the Rabbit, included everything from a pink and white Chinese dragon swooping through the shopping centre, to kung fu demonstrations by martial artists from across East Sussex.

Flash-forward to 2020, almost a decade later, and Chinese New Year celebrations are exactly what Michelle hoped they would be: a staple of the Hastings calendar.

After the first celebrations in 2011, the festivities returned to the Priory Meadow Shopping centre year after year, bringing colourful dragons, kung fu displays and more to the shoppers of 1066 country.

This year, marks the year of the rat, the first of the zodiac animals and one associated with cunning, intelligence and a peaceful life.

The naming tradition comes from the tradition of the Chinese zodiac, which assigns a year to one of 12 animals- the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse goat, monkey, rooster, pig and dog. The zodiac comes from an ancient Chinese fable in which all of the animals raced to decide who should claim the coming new year. In the story, the cunning rat jumps over the ox to win. An animal’s place in the zodiac, then, reflects its place in the race.

This year’s celebrations started on January 25, with fireworks celebrations and displays in cities all over the world.