Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia has a rich influence from the Chinese culture, with a large number of Chinese descendants and immigrant Vietnamese populations. They celebrate the Chinese New Year with much vigor and enthusiasm. In areas with large Chinese influence, mostly away from major tourist attractions, such as the Sisowath Quay, one can see many celebrations during the Chinese New Year. Chinese lanterns and banners line the city streets while fireworks are displayed across in the sky, while wealthy Chinese people adorn their private shows with dragon dance. The Chinese New Year usually falls on a date between January 21st and February 20th, since the date is determined by the Chinese calendar. The Chinese calendar is lunisolar and both the cycles of the sun and moon are taken into consideration.
The Chinese New Year, also called the Spring Festival is the most significant traditional Chinese celebration. During this time many Chinese travel back to their homes to meet their families. A reunion dinner is eaten on New Year’s Eve. Legend has it that the star of the Chinese New Year began with a fight against a beast called Nian (or Year). The beast would come on the first day of the New Year and consume livestock, crops and even villagers, especially children. In order to protect themselves the villagers would place food in front of their doors. The Nian would come and eat this and go away without attacking the villagers. Once it was observed by the villagers that the Nian was afraid of a child wearing the colour red. Afterwards every New Year’s Eve, people would hang red lanterns and spring scrolls on their doors and windows, firecrackers were also lit to scare away the Nian, and so the Nian never came back. The Nian was later converted by the Taoist Hongjunlaozu, to become his mount.
New Years celebration involves many traditions, involving exchange of gifts, giving red packets and fireworks including many others and goes on for several days. The Chinese New Year is celebrated amongst the Chinese community in Phnom Penh. Many people stay here to witness and partake of the celebration which goes on for days. Phnom Penh accommodation is available at many a luxury hotel in Phnom Penh, modestly showing off Cambodian luxury in it’s most authentic style.