Celebrating Lunar New Year with the Chinese Waist Drum Dance

Lunar New Year is coming soon! If you check the traditional Chinese calendar, opens a new window, you will find that it falls on Friday, 12 February. According to the Chinese zodiac, 2021 is the Year of the Ox. The Chinese zodiac of the Ox symbolises hardwork, reliability, stability, and nourishment. After a tragic and tumultuous year of the Rat, we wish the year of the Ox will bring us positivity and hope. 

In China, Lunar New Year is an occasion for people to extend the New Year greetings to each other.

The waist drum dance is characterised by its enthusiasm, muscularity, rhythmicality, and gracefulness so it becomes one of the most powerful ways of delivering the best wishes to others during Lunar New Year. The waist drum (腰鼓 yāo gǔ) consists of a 15-inch long hollow wooden cylinder with two ends covered with leather and two wooden drumsticks. The drum is strapped to a drummer's waist with red silk and allows the drummer great mobility while dancing and beating. 

As a Chinese folk dance, the waist drum originates from a religious activity of greeting gods and dispelling evil. It first became popular in the dusty yellow Loess Plateau of north-central China, in Shaanxi province. Then it was adapted to a traditional Lunar New Year and Lantern Festival activity. With Chinese migration, it spread overseas and has always been seen at multicultural events like Lunar New Year parades. 

The Waist Drum Group of Christchurch, Zhonghua Chinese Society, was established by Chinese immigrants a few years ago. They participate in various events and activities to introduce Chinese traditional folklore to local communities and promote Chinese culture. The performances of this group are always highlighted at the Christchurch Lunar New Year Parade and other celebrations. This group is performing at the Spectacular Lunar New Year Celebration, opens a new window at Tūranga, our central library, on 13 February 2021. We welcome you to attend the event to appreciate the enthusiastic Chinese traditional folk dance and other multicultural performances.  

More Lunar New Year celebrations

Thanks go to Wendy Zhang, the director of Christchurch Zhonghua Chinese Society, and her Waist Drum Group for providing photos used in this blog post. 

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