By Sofia Jesus

It’s that time of the year again. Time to gather family and friends, share good memories and get your hopes up for the new year ahead.

The city is celebrating the arrival of the Chinese New Year with street decoration, parades, shows, fairs, firecrackers, fireworks and special menus.

With some cultural venues closed due to the Lunar Year holidays, I suggest taking advantage of this weekend’s good weather and embracing the season spirit outdoors, in the company of your most loved ones.

In addition to going to the temples – as probably many of you did yesterday – one of the must-do things is to burn the firecrackers near Macau Tower or across the water, in the Taipa side. I admit I do not feel comfortable at all doing it – I feel I’m in the middle of a battle field – but tradition says it is good to keep the bad spirits away, so…

Today, Saturday, the Giant Dragon will be out in the streets, as well as the Fortune God and the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac. Also today, in the Taipa Houses-Museum, an exhibition of flowers allusive to the Chinese New Year will open, lasting until February 12.

Those of you with children – or fans of pandas – may enjoy the opportunity to take your family to the Seac Pai Van Park and meet the seven-month old twin baby, as they are shown to the public for the first time. This will be done for two hours a day until February 12.

On Monday, January 30, the third day of the new Lunar year, there will be the New Year Parade. This year’s theme is “All Birds Paying Homage to the Phoenix for the Dawn of Spring”.

“Passing through Avenida Dr. Sun Yat-Sen on Macau Peninsula, 14 dazzling floats will proceed together with 688 performers in different groups from nearly 10 countries and regions until the destination at Sai Van Lake Square in front of Macau Tower, making a grand march towards a brighter year ahead with spectators,” the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) explains. Spectator seats will be set up at the roundabout in front of Macao Science Center (the Palace of Peacock), the front square of Kun Iam Ecumenical Centre (the Palace of Crane) and the front square of Rua da Torre de Macau (the Palace of Magpie), MGTO adds.

In a crowd or in the comfort of your home, the important thing in Chinese New Year is sharing. Sharing time, laughs and memories with your loved ones. May the Rooster give you health to do it all year long.