CHINESE New Year will be celebrated in style by the Panda Restaurant in Stokesley on February 9.

The Chinese Association from Newcastle are performing the Chinese New Year Lion Dance outside the restaurant at 3.30pm on that day, and the owners would like to invite the people of the town and surrounding areas to come along and celebrate with them.

Lion dance is a form of traditional dance in Chinese culture and other Asian countries in which performers mimic a lion's movements in a lion costume to bring good luck and fortune. The lion dance is usually performed during the Chinese New Year and other Chinese traditional, cultural and religious festivals.

Known as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, this is China's most important celebration with a weekly official public holiday. The actual date fluctuates between January 21 and February 20, as the date is determined by the Lunar Calendar and it falls on the second new moon after the Winter Solstice on December 21. The Chinese Zodiac gives each year an animal sign and this year is the year of the Rat, and the official date in 2020 is January 25.

The traditions of wearing red and the giving of children money in red envelopes come from the story of a monster called Nian who would appear on New Year's Eve to eat people and livestock. An old man of the village refused to flee to the mountains as did everyone else, and dressed up in red clothes (a symbol of good luck, energy and happiness, which people wear on New Year) pasted red paper on all the doors, burnt bamboo to make a crackling sound (hence the firecrackers for celebrations) and lit candles. The villagers arrived home to find their village untouched. According to legend, a demon called Sui used to terrify children at the same time and one little boy was given coins to play with the keep him awake, which he wrapped in red paper, and the bright energy from this stopped the monster touching the boy.

The North East Chinese Association, who will be performing the dance, is a cultural and educational institution dedicated to deepening the understanding and appreciation of Chinese culture in the global and local communities.

Meeisee Wu, one of the owners of the Panda said: "We like to bring culture and an understanding into the community and to share with them our celebrations."

By Jan Hunter