Chinese New Year is the most important Chinese festival celebrated at the turn of the Lunar New Year! This year, we ushered in the Year of the Ram at Groot Constantia with our international visitors!
Do you know the story behind Chinese New Year?
A long, long, time ago……
It all began with a frightening mythical beast called the “Nian (年)” – the Chinese character for “year”. Nian hibernates in the high mountains, and would descend from his cave on the first day of New Year to eat livestock, crops, and even villagers, especially children! The villagers lived in fear for the new year, and one day the wisest men of the country came together to discuss how they can protect themselves. A strangely clothed, long-bearded wise man joined the group and told them that Nian was afraid of the colour red and loud noises.
As the villagers begin to prepare for the next New Year, they hung up red lanterns and paper scrolls on windows and doors. At the entrance of each village, brave young men gathered and threw down firecrackers as Nian approached their village. Nian was frightened away and never came to the villages again! This is why we now celebrate the “passing of the Nian (过年)”, synonymous with celebrating the new year with firecrackers and anything red!
Groot Constantia is South Africa’s oldest wine producing estate with an uninterrupted record of wine production since its inception in 1685, boasting a proud heritage of 330 years this year. At Groot Constantia, we are carrying on the tradition to celebrate Chinese New Year with our guests. This year, we decorated our tasting room with red banners and scrolls bearing festive greetings. When you arrive you will be welcomed by our friendly team, helping you customize your experience with a wide range of activities: daily wine tastings; tours of our centuries-old wine cellar; chocolate and wine pairing; architecture collection at the Homestead Iziko Museum; picnic and deli at Simon’s Restaurant; and sumptuous dining experience at Jonkershuis Restaurant.
While it is winter back home, our guests enjoyed South Africa’s warm summer’s breeze this Chinese New Year! Groot Constantia consistently produces award winning wines, and since 2003 the estates’ wines have collectively won 82 gold medals. Over the years, our wines have caught the attention of influential people across the globe. The Grand Constance is a firm favourite with our guests this year, as guests sip, swirl and compared tasting notes with one another. With the festive celebration, another Chinese New Year tradition is the gifting of the “red envelope (红包)” amongst family and friends. With the exchange of the red envelopes, each gift brings good luck and prosperity to the recipient. We extended this tradition by creating our very own red envelopes, sharing a memorable experience with our guests as we welcome in the Year of the Ram!
In many ways, we have seen our own version of the Nian monster in Africa this past year. 2014 marks the outbreak of Ebola epidemic, affecting Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and many more West African countries. Considerable progress has been made in Liberia, which now experiences fewer than five new infections per week. While there are no Ebola outbreaks in South Africa, many visitors have cancelled their overall trip to Africa due to travel restrictions. As we usher in the new year, it is a symbol of new beginning and the defeat of the great Nian beast. May the new year bring you much prosperity, health and happiness!
Written by Lisa Huang