How to celebrate Chinese New Year in Dubai

From lion dancing to fireworks, Vision rounds up the best ways to herald the Year of the Rooster from January 28

The concept of Chinese New Year comes from the agricultural calendar. When the rice harvests end, farmers rest and mark the beginning of a new era and the rejuvenation of life.

Perhaps better known as the Spring Festival, 2017 also marks the Year of the Rooster, the 10th animal in the 12-year cycle of the Zodiac. Individuals born in this year, such as tennis player Roger Federer, singer Beyonce and author Rudyard Kipling, are characterised as hard workers, honest and energetic.

Many people are likely to practice ancient myths, such as not washing their hair on the first day of the lunar year. In the Chinese language, hair shares the same character as ‘to become wealthy’ and therefore it is viewed unlucky to ‘wash one’s fortune away’ at the beginning of the New Year. Similarly, sweeping is considered counterproductive.

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Chinese New Year is often celebrated with the exchange of red envelopes

Besides the raft of personal practices, welcoming the New Year often starts with fireworks to ward of inauspicious spirits and Nian, the New Year monster and the exchange of red envelopes, a ritual that is not immune to the technological age.

In China, smartphone addicts have never had the chance to play Pokemon Go, but Alibaba’s Alipay, a popular mobile payment app, has recently launched a location-based, augmented-reality game that allows players to collect virtual red packets containing real Yuan, instead.

Like Poke-trainers, users can wander urban areas in search of these red packets hidden by fellow game players, a kind of ‘packet-mon’ for those celebrating Chinese New Year. In 2016, the well-thumbed buttons of Chinese smart phones electronically sent 32.1 billion hongbao as it is also known through a lottery-esque scheme on WeChat - a 903 per cent year on-year increase.

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China Town in Dubai will be festooned with red and gold decorations

This year in Dubai, a hugely popular time for travel among Chinese tourists, this Chinese tradition of giving red post containing financial gifts will also be traditionally carried out off-screen for the Lunar New Year. Restaurants such as Royal China, DIFC and Long Yin in Le Meridien Dubai Hotel will grant guests the symbolic envelopes to complement their respective feasts.

To soak up the famously decadent decorations, visitors will no doubt wander China Town in Dubai, located near Dubai International Airport, which will be festooned with red and gold decorations - considered to be auspicious colours – and bustling with lion dancing, dragon dance troupes, Chinese fan and ribbon acrobats and live music. The Chinese Wishing Tree, synonymous with good luck and fortune, will be on display to ‘hang hopes’ on for the year ahead, and the Dragon Mart will also be transformed with hues of red and gold with red hanging lanterns sporting inscriptions of good luck. The Arabian Tower and the Mall of the Emirates’ Chinese Circus are also be popular places to celebrate.

For satisfying an inevitably hungry appetite after the revelry, seek out the Fortune tale, a traditional Chinese salad prepared at the table where guests are invited to use their chopsticks to toss the leaves themselves, that will be on many Chinese menus. The higher the salad is tossed, the more prosperous the year ahead will be. Grand Hyatt Dubai and Hakkasan at Jumeirah Emirates Towers are such places where diners can experience this ritual, in addition to dining on indulgent dim sum and at Hakkasan, a ginger panna cotta designed as an egg in its nest. If you prefer live entertainment with your meal, Zheng He’s oriental feast includes dancing and live calligraphy at the Mina A’Salam Hotel.