Research from Bastion Insights has shown the shift from the name ‘Chinese New Year’ to ‘Lunar New Year’ has created a sense of loss For Australia’s Chinese community.
Businesses and government organisations are increasingly using the name ‘Lunar New Year’ to promote multiculturalism and inclusion by acknowledging the festival is celebrated by many Asian cultures – sometimes on different dates using different calendars.
Bastion Insights New Year Naming report found renaming the festival had created fear and concerns around loss of cultural identity and autonomy among Australia’s 1.4 million strong Chinese community that makes up 5.5 per cent of the population.
The study showed almost four in 10 (37 per cent) Chinese speakers with a strong emotional connection to Chinese New Year felt a sense of loss at the adoption of the name Lunar New Year.
More than half (55 per cent) of Mainland Chinese and Other Asians with Chinese cultural heritage and by decent believe Chinese New Year is the most appropriate name for the celebrations, with just 10% preferring Lunar New Year (5 per cent for Mainland Chinese and 19 per cent for Other Asian).
The study shows more needs to be done to strike a balance between Australia’s pursuit of multiculturalism and inclusion – and ensuring cultural preservation and autonomy is not compromised.
The name ‘Chinese New Year’ is part of the history of a diverse culture and their traditions, and as a result there is no correct answer to rectify the change. Bastion Cross-Cultural Insights suggests ‘Chinese Lunar New Year’ may offer the best potential for a middle ground. The moniker would both maintain primacy of Chinese culture and ensure the importance of multiculturalism was maintained.
That could include a new, more all-inclusive name, with Bastion Cross Cultural Insights suggesting ‘Chinese Lunar New Year’ offers the best potential for a middle ground. The moniker would both maintain primacy of Chinese culture and ensure the importance of multiculturalism was maintained.
General manager, Cross-Cultural Insights, Isabel Zhang said: “Living throughout Asia in countries such as Malaysia and Singapore – where there is significant Chinese diaspora – it was referred to as ‘Chinese New Year.’ It was only recently that the western world generalised the term, citing ‘Lunar New Year’ as the more appropriate name. To be more culturally inclusive, more education and cultural understanding is necessary in Australia and other multicultural societies before decisions like this are made.”
The intricacies of cross-cultural inclusivity will be examined in a free one hour webinar, Chinatown to Lunartown: When shifting to suit the majority, does inclusivity lose cultural nuance? next Tuesday, 2 February from 11.30am-12.30pm.
The panel of speakers from diverse backgrounds includes Victoria’s Multicultural Commissioner and Neuropsychologist Dr Judy Tang, President of Chinatown Association, VIC, JJ Heng, Vicinity Centres Head of Data Insights and Research Ranil Illesinghe and Bastion Insight’s Isabel Zhan.
For the survey, Bastion Insights spoke to 319 Asian Australians, comprised of 200 Chinese-speaking Australians from mainland China and 119 Other Asians with Chinese Ancestry, to identify the preferred naming conventions for Chinese New Year/Lunar New Year and attitudes towards different naming conventions for the event. The cohort was 71% female with 65% of those surveyed aged under 45.
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