One of our managers, Jo, spoke to Ali Vowles on BBC Radio Bristol on 28 January 2017 about our Chinese New Year celebrations, which were happening later that day. They talked about the different acts and performances that day, the Chinese tradition of giving red envelopes to children during this time of year, and the increasing popularity of digital red pockets in China. Ali even got the chance to practice her Cantonese! 新年快樂！
Here is a transcript for the interview:
A: Well, across the West, celebrations will take place to celebrate the New Year, including right here, in Bristol, at the Wai Yee Hong Chinese supermarket in Eastgate. Jo Short’s the manager and she joins me on the line now. Morning to you, Jo.
J: Hi there Ali!
A: Oh! I’m very pleased you’re there.
J: Yes, I’m here!
A: All the sound has decided to give up on me, so it’s very nice to have a human being on the end of a phone line. Now then, tell us a little bit about the event that you put on.
J: Well, it’s an event that that we’ve kind of put on for the last, it must be almost 30 years now, and we just seem to get bigger and better each year. We have lion dances, and this year, we’ve pulled out all the stops and got everyone in our local community to pitch in. We’ve got ribbon dances, fan dances, there’ll be kung fu demonstrations. And X-factor finalist, Tita Lau, will be performing for us as well.
We’ve got all of our friends with street food to come and have a stall as well. There is Vietnamese food, so if you’re celebrating Vietnamese New Year, which is very similar and the same to Chinese New Year, then you can enjoy some Vietnamese food. We’ve got sushi, we’ve got all sorts of things.
A: And is it good for business as well, for you? It must be, because it’s so much that people love to talk about it.
J: It’s one of those things that – it gets bigger every year, and it gets more expensive to run every year!
A: Hmm, I can imagine. The expectations go up, don’t they?
J: Yeah, we kinda do it just because it’s fun, and y’know, it’s really good for the Chinese community and for the local community spirit. So, we wouldn’t say it’s supposed to make us a lot of money It’s just…
A: It’s just there to be! Yeah.
J: Just to be and really celebrate our culture.
A: I was fascinated to learn, reading this morning that the exchange of money that goes on. Is that a Chinese New Year tradition?
J: Yes! So, from a very early age, you’ll learn to say “恭喜發財!” and then, if you are a bit cheeky, you’d say: “利是逗來!”. That means “Wishing you prosperity!” and “Where’s my red envelope please?”
J: Because, what we do is, married couples tend to give youngsters red envelopes with cash money in it.
A: Oh wow!
J: Although, the modern day… Technology has caught up with us and now people give virtual red envelopes through iPhones and whatnot.
A: This was what I was reading. Forecasters across the world, they’re expecting up to 100 billion digital red envelopes to be sent and received by Chinese well-wishers. I mean, that’s a huge amount!
J: Yeah, it’s all about – the more money you give, the more good karma you get back, if you see what I mean? It’s a way of filtering your money down to the younger generation, and it’s a very popular thing that we do, and it is very linked to Chinese New Year.
A: Well, listen, it’s lovely to hear from you. The celebrations with you start at 11.30.
J: We have got so many acts today, that we’ve pulled it forward to 11 o’clock.
A: Oh, OK! 11 o’clock!
J: Yeah, we couldn’t fit everything in, if we started at 11.30!
A: Well, listen, I’m sure it will be brilliant. You are at the Wai Yee Hong Chinese supermarket, which is massive, isn’t it, in Eastgate. And you will see lots of things going on! Now, am I saying this right? I’m sure I’m not. Sing yung kee lo? Is that happy new year?
J: I think you are trying to say “新年快樂”, which is Mandarin for happy new year. In Cantonese, we say “新年快樂”
A: Sun ying kwa lok! <laughs> Not quite there, but I’ll work on it. Thank-you very much. Lovely to talk to you. Thank-you, bye-bye!