Chinese New Year is a major celebration in many parts of Asia where people with Chinese ancestry live. But its celebration is also significant in Peru where a sizable Chinese and Asian population exists due to immigration since the 1800s. It is not an official public holiday, but it is nevertheless looked forward to by many thousands across the country.
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The timing of Chinese New Year is generally late January or early February. It is also known as the Spring Festival, based on the timing of the seasons in the Northern Hemisphere. Chinese New Year is actually celebrated for 15 consecutive days, but the first three days are most important.
Each Chinese New Year is designated as “the year of“ one of the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac, which animal is supposed to characterise that year and all those born in it.
Chinese New Year is the most important annually recurring festival for people of Chinese ancestry all over the world. It has been celebrated for over 1,000 years – possibly much longer, and the traditions involved are deeply ingrained in Chinese culture. For many, it is also a religious holiday, full of prayers, offerings, and other acts of devotion.
Many Chinese arrived in Peru during the 19th Century, after the abolition of slavery, to work the mines as indentured servants. Around 100,000 came in a span of just 20 or so years. During the 1980s and 1990s, another wave of Chinese immigrants arrived and further strengthened Chinese New Year traditions in Peru.
China Town in Lima is the undisputed centre of the celebrations in Peru, but they certainly are not limited to this locale. Dragon-dance parades, firecrackers galore, indulgence in tasty Chinese street food, and a shopping frenzy all accompany Chinese New Year here. Peruvians of other than Asian ancestry also join in, making it a truly national and multi-ethnic scene.