From Beijing to Birmingham- millions of people around the world will be celebrating the Chinese New Year from this Thursday (19 Feb). International student Stephanie Chua Yoke Ping looks at how you can celebrate the Year of the Goat here in the city!

Before you close the tab thinking this is irrelevant to you, STOP. You don’t have to be Chinese to celebrate Chinese New Year. It is a joyous and meaningful occasion to be shared with everyone and anyone.

This year, Chinese New Year falls on the 19th of February where the Year of the Horse ends and we usher in the Year of the Goat.

Being so far away from home, I often crave the comforts that I once used to take for granted. As the festive season, which signifies family and togetherness draws closer with each passing day, I increasingly reminisce on the once upon a time, which seems so distant now. Okay, I’m done being all emotional. Thank God I’m in Birmingham though. It’s so culturally diverse that I don’t feel so far away from home. The city and the people are very much alike to home that if you think about it more positively, you can actually find home in the most unlikely places. Which is why, as we welcome the Year of the Goat 2015, I’ve found 5 ways to make Birmingham the perfect place to celebrate Chinese New Year.

Chinese New Year in Birmingham: 

Join in the festivities held by the Birmingham Chinese Festival Committee at the Arcadian Centre on Sunday the 22nd of February 2015. This event is definitely not to be missed as it is the largest of its kind in the West Midlands area. There’s going to be food, performances and fireworks. The best part: this event is totally free! Being so far away from home, this would definitely be the place to soak in the familiarity of the festivities back home.

Click here for more details of the event.

Don’t miss: The iconic Selfridges Birmingham store will be going red to mark the start of the Year of the Goat. It will adopt the lucky colour red on Wednesday (18 Feb) and Thursday (19 Feb) so do look out for it!

Chinese New Year snacks

Don’t you miss those pineapple tarts, peanut cookies, love letters and sticky rice cakes? The list is almost endless. These cravings are usually magnified during this festive period and being in a foreign land, and it may not be the easiest task finding them. But fret not! There are recipes all over the internet which are simple and delicious. A cheap, delicious and absolutely fool proof recipe you can try is the Honey Joys. They look adorable and they taste even better. The total cost for the ingredients you need would be more than £5 to make probably hundreds of these things!

Food, food and more food! Oh and friends too of course.

When you’re away from home, your friends at university are your family. And what, you may ask, is the best way to get a group of people together? Food, of course! Don’t spend Chinese New Year all alone. Gather some friends together for a pot luck where each person brings their own dish to the table. Bring out the Honey Joys you made and enjoy the rest of the day with them playing some card games. Don’t forget to get some mandarin oranges or tangerines too! It’s a staple fruit during Chinese New Year.

Did you know that Southside is Birmingham’s most vibrant and diverse scene, which includes Chinatown? Check out the various restaurants, cafes and bakeries for all your cravings- just a short walk from the City Centre Campus.

Eat some Yee Sang (aka Prosperity Toss)

This dish is usually another must have during Chinese New Year where the family gathers around the table holding chopsticks. Everyone will begin tossing the mix of raw fish and shredded vegetables (among some other stuff) while reciting their well wishes for the New Year. The significance of this action is to imply an increase in abundance throughout the year. Where can you get this in Birmingham? You might find some, but possibly not at a very good value for money. Hence, I suggest the reinvented version of the Yee Sang using shredded fruits and yogurt instead! Your end result will be a delicious fruit salad but carrying the significance as the Yee Sang. Moreover, fruits in Birmingham are cheap and fresh, with the added bonus that you’re bringing something healthy to the table. So basically what you can do is just to get your favourite fruits, arrange them on a plate, pour some yogurt, and voila! You may begin the tossing party!

Steamboat (or Hot Pot)

Since Chinese New Year lasts for 15 days, it means good food for 15 days. Just put away that weighing scale…far far away. Steamboat is not a usual activity for this celebration though. But, since it’s still winter over here, this would be perfect! Get your friends together and have a steamboat party! All you need is a rice cooker, a variety of meats, fishballs, dumplings, vegetables and a group of hungry people around the table. If you’d like, ask everyone to wear red to make it feel more like Chinese New Year. Trust me, this would be awesome!

And that concludes my list! Hopefully they will help you get rid of even a little bit of that inevitable homesickness during this festive period.

Happy Chinese New Year, folks!

 

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