Gong hei fat choy! Gong xi fa cai!
Sydney’s Chinese New Year celebrations are widely believed to be the biggest in the world outside of Asia, and for that the city has Raymond Leung to thank.
Raymond has been promoting Chinese cultural events in Sydney for over 35 years. Twenty five years ago, he began working with the City of Sydney to formulate the Chinese New Year Festival.
Leung was the first person to be appointed by the then Lord Mayor of Sydney to work on the city’s Chinese New Year Celebrations.
“Those days there was no celebration except for some line dancing in China Town” says Raymond.
“25 years ago we started that and then we evolved into a Chinese New Year committee, and started following a blueprint of how to celebrate.”
Raymond has also been a significant part of the decorations side of Chinese New Year, having designed the lanterns for a number of years.
Originally from Hong Kong, Raymond Leung studied and worked as an engineer, then moved on to design. He has designed a number of Sydney Restaurants, as well as owning his own restaurant Bambusia, in Bondi and Chatswood.
Now, Raymond runs his own tea shop, Zensation Tea House in Waterloo, which he has owned for the last 18 years and is currently offering a Chinese New Year tea appreciation, calligraphy and dumpling promotion. Selling tea, offering educational tea ceremonies and teaching calligraphy, Raymond hopes to “teach people to appreciate Chinese culture,”
With a diverse clientele, Raymond hopes that through promoting Chinese cultural celebrations and through his work and great conversations in his Tea House, he can “promote the good things about China.”
Raymond also provided some predictions into this years Year of the Ox, saying: “Historically the Year of the Rat is a bad year, from war, famine, to now pandemics. Historically the rat is a tough, tough year, which we are experiencing now.”
“The Year of the Ox is not as bad as the Year of the Rat, but it’s going to be a steady, tough, hard work year… You’ll benefit from working hard, but it won’t be as dramatic as the Year of the Rat.”
Despite being knocked back by the Light Rail project and the COVID-19 pandemic, Raymond has high hopes for the future of Chinese New Year in Australia.
Although he believes that the parade is unlikely to come back, due to the changes made to George St, he does believe that celebrations will continue to grow, as they steadily have been.
“Now a whole different part of Sydney is coming into the party. Every suburb has a different way of celebrating,” Raymond says.
Raymond hopes that in future Chinese New Year will grow to eventually become a public holiday throughout Australia. By working on and educating individuals about Chinese cultural celebrations, Raymond hopes to build a sense of acceptance and diversity within the Sydney community.
“It’s my passion to do my little part.”
Zensation Tea House will be offering Tea Appreciation, dumplings and Chinese Calligraphy Demonstration to celebration the Year of the Ox. Sessions run from on the 13th, 14th, 20th and 21st of February, from 12pm-3pm. Ticket cost is $55 per person.
Tel: 9310 2788 / 0418 291 197