Chinese New Year is early this year, on Saturday 25 January 2020. This day marks the beginning of the Year of the Rat. In Suriname, home to a large Chinese community, Chinese New Year is celebrated grandiosely; it is also a national holiday.
On this day in Suriname several Chinese associations can be visited for lunch. Kong Ngie Tong Sang, for instance, Suriname’s oldest and largest Chinese association. One association will celebrate New Year on Saturday 25 January while another will do so on Sunday 26 January, because some people have a preference for Sunday. A table at Kong Ngie Tong Sang seats 8 and bookings can be made as of the first week of January. The six dishes will be served according to the Surinamese Hakka tradition.
Chinese New Year is, above all, a day of reunion. Chinese as well as non-Chinese, everyone feeling connected to this ethnic group joins in. In recent years, a Chinese fair has been added. Celebrations this year will be much more extensive; there will be a fair at Independence Square, performances of Chinese acrobats, an exhibition … Something for everyone. At 9 p.m., there is a fireworks display from the Jules Wijdenbosch Bridge. (Please note that the bridge will be closed during the fireworks and maybe earlier in the day.)
The recently held exhibition The Chinese in Me has shown how many Surinamese people are of Chinese descent. This exhibition will be held again at the Congreshal at Independence Square on 25 January 2020.
The Year of the Rat, the first animal in the Chinese zodiac, which starts on 25 January 2020 and ends on 14 February 2021, is characterized by renewal. We took the following information from the websites www.catharinaweb.nl and www.thechinesezodiac.org.
“According to legend the Rat was the first to appear when Buddha sent for all the animals. The Rat asked the Ox to give him a ride and just as they arrived at their destination, Rat jumped down and so became first. The Rat is always eager and curious and very opportunistic. The Year of the Metal Rat is not only the first year of a new cycle; it also marks the beginning of renewal and progress. Rat years are pioneer years; in all kinds of areas we can expect renewal which will affect different aspects of our lives.”
Text & photos: Charles Chang, January 2020
Translation: Roline Brahim-Tjen A Kwoei/Equivalence Translations