The Chinese community in Malta yesterday ushered in the New Year in a flurry of colours, traditional music and beaming smiles.

For the seventh consecutive year, the China Cultural Centre and Valletta Local Council organised activities in the capital to “share the joy and happiness of the new year”.

Some 21 performing artistes from the Province of Jiangsu were invited for a string of events that opened in St George’s Square in the morning to mark the most important festival in China.

Known as the Spring Festival, the Chinese New Year bids farewell to the old year, signalling the end of winter. It is also a time for family reunion, where relatives, wherever they are, are supposed to return home and get together with the rest of the family.

This year, represented by the snake, will officially begin on Sunday, February 10, and end in January 2014.

The snake is one of 12 animals representing a cycle of 12 years, which forms the basis of the Chinese Zodiac.

The Chinese believe that people born under the different animal signs have different personalities. They use these characteristics to check romantic compatibilities and guidance in life decisions. Those born under the sign of the snake, including those born in 1953, 1965, 1977 and 1989, are meant to be rich in wisdom and charm, and are warned by the Chinese zodiac to keep up their sense of humour about life.

A charity show at the St Anne’s Hall in Marsascala will be held tonight at 7pm. Those interested can contact the local council.

A Spring Festival photo exhibition will open on February 21 and go on till March 21 at the China Cultural Centre in Melita Street, Valletta, while a Lantern Festival will be held on February 23 from 10am to 4pm at the same place.

The cultural centre has also launched an online quiz and essay competition called Game on 2013: the Happy Chinese New Year. The competition will run until the end of April and, while the online quiz is in English or Spanish, participants can use any language for the essay contest. More information on www.chinaculture.org/focus/node_50008959.htm

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