Chinese Lantern Festival / by Luke Lee

So, the time has come again, Chinese New Year.

Well, technically, Chinese New Year (or Lunar New Year as I'd like to call it) has already passed. As far as I know, lantern festival is to celebrate the new year, it's just not so ideal to time it as western culture doesn't celebrate Lunar New Year. Me, I'm somewhere in the middle. My wife's birthday is still in lunar and all my relatives in Korea are still celebrating lunar new year, so I don't have much choice.

There are 12 animals representing the years. Year 2016 is year of monkey. I was born in the year of monkey. This is my year. Off to a good start.

It was held in Hagley Park, just by the Botanic Gardens. As soon as we walked into the park through the bridge on Armagh street, along with hundreds of people, we were blown away. The park was filled with people. Completely covered with bobbing heads, shoulders to shoulders moving in a single file back and forth. This kind of population density, we've only seen in Puerta Del Sol in Madrid and Myeongdong in Seoul.

A very annoying thing of all was people taking photos. Hey, I'm a photographer. I have no problem with people taking photos, I'd like to join them most of the time. However, it was just madness. People taking photos everywhere, especially just by the big lanterns, basically not giving enough room for anyone else. At least, you can be a decent person and wait for your turn to take photos and not get into others.

However, it was one of the few times in Christchurch to see so many people in one place. It was rather fun. Just to see people having fun, doing their things and just enjoying the time. I wished we had more events like this, and the city will be more vibrant and more active. Not to mention, great opportunity to have chances for street photographers.

I've been living in this city for more than 20 years now. It used to be quite busy before the earthquake in 2011. Now, we can hardly see people in the central city during the weekdays.

When events like this pop up, I think us locals get excited. we haven't had this kind of activities for so long, we are just thirsty for some. Last Night Noodle Markets for one, and this.

There were many activities going on with lots of food to try on. The event started at 5PM and lasted till 10:30PM. Most kids would go to bed by this time. But, hey, it's lantern festival mate. We all come out. Sleep if you want, but this is the night for some fun. I mean, who would be even able to tell if you got a face painting on your face at this time of the night, but hey, might as well.

My originally given name was based in Chinese characters. I've learnt how to write it in Chinese when I was a young boy, and I still remember. I am a horrible writer, especially when it's Chinese. But sometimes I do feel quite special to have my name written in Korean, Chinese and English, all in its own characters.

I also learnt how to write Chinese in a formal way like the photo, and I still remember. I just suck at it.

Did I like it?

Hell yeah. Yes, too many people. Yes, I couldn't even see where I was going because of people. Yes, I lost my way in the waves of people. Yes, I lost my wife and son couple of times during the time. Yes, we don't really like being surrounded by so many people (they become immoral, stupid and mindless).

But this is the kind of things we needed in Christchurch. Painting some colours in our city, in our lives. We are getting back to the mind and place before the earthquakes happened. We need a boost of normalities. We are getting back to normal. This is a great change in our day to day lives of traffic cones, road blocks and detours.