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The Chinese New Year celebration in Centre London - 2009 the year of the Ox


China and Vietnam are sharing the same lunar calendar and astrology (except for the rabbit which is a cat in Vietnam). The Ox is going to govern this year starting on the 26th of January.

The Vietnamese New Year or Spring Festival, also called Tết, is the most important of our traditional holidays. It's the time for all the family to gather together around lovely food, forget about all the bad things that happened last year and start a new one in a happy atmosphere. It is believed that what ever happen on the beginning of the year is likely to be repeated throughout the year, so everyone tries to be happy, put any anger or bad feeling aside that's why kids are excited as they can do what ever they want (or nearly) without being reproved by their parents. They can also eat a lot of those lovely dried fruits and receive Lì Xì lucky red envelopes containing money, I wish I was a kid again :-P

This year, as every year, the London Chinatown Chinese Association has organized a celebration of the Chinese New Year in Centre London. There were traditional dances, songs, Lion dances etc... From Trafalgar Square to Soho, all the streets were very busy and full of colours.

The new year started on the 26th. With my wife we went shopping to buy the Bánh Tét / Bánh Chưng, the traditional new year cake made of sticky rice:

We've invited 4 friends of ours for a new year lunch and then headed to the buddhist temple in Dartford, Kent for a religious ceremony. All these festivities make me miss my family far in New Caledonia even more! Nearly all my family over there are living in the same block. Our houses are separated by just a few meters so for every birthdays and festivities it's just so easy to gather around. As being born in Laos and having a Thai aunty, you can imagine the variety of food on the table, a real feast!

A week later, on Sunday 1st of February, the London Chinatown Chinese Association has organized an event in Centre London. Now I miss the Vietnamese community in Montpellier, France... SIGH!

Frank and Jonathan joined us to enjoy the atmosphere and take some photographs. It was very busy and getting the shot you want is not always possible... I took with me a monopod on which I've mounted an SB-600 so that I can have my flash high enough and positioned at any angle off-camera, a wireless version of the Strobist strobe-on-a-rope. Nikon CLS/iTTL works quite well like this, even outdoors with nothing to bounce off from. Just make sure that the flash's CLS sensor is pointing towards you and let the magic happen. As the flash is on a monopod, it will usually be more in the front and will not miss the CLS signal sent by my D300's popup flash as opposed to having it hand held, I sometime hold it too much on the side and at the back of the camera cutting the line of sight.

Happy New Year of the Ox to all of you, may it bring you health, happiness and success!


New Year

Looks like a lot of fun, shame I couldn't be there.

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