EAST meets West on Monday as a Whitby business celebrates the Chinese New Year, which this year carries special significance.
2012 sees the Year of the Rabbit give way to the Year of the Dragon, and Peter and Melanie Greer and are hoping this is a good omen for their independent bookstore, Crazy Dragon Books.
The online business is currently the only independent UK bookstore which specialises in all things Chinese.
Melanie was born and raised in Whitby, while her husband Peter hails from Hong Kong, and together they have travelled extensively around China.
The pair were married at St Mary’s church in 2010 and have now made their home in Whitby, but they still plan to welcome the Year of the Dragon in style.
Peter said: “The dragon is the most popular of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac and they are associated with strength, harmony and good luck.
“Such is the power of the tradition that in China the Year of the Dragon usually sees an increase in the birth rate.”
Chinese New Year marks the largest human migration in the world as people travel home to be with their family.
The celebrations last for 15 days but the main event is the Reunion Dinner on New Year’s Eve, which carries the same significance as our Christmas Dinner.
Red envelopes known as ‘hungbao’ are customarily given to people who are unmarried and contain a small sum of money, although the significance lies in the act of giving, not the amount in the envelope.
Peter added: “Other traditions range from the mundane, such as spring cleaning – where you clean the house and then have to hide your broom in case it sweeps away your wishes for the coming year – to more dramatic events, like firecrackers, which are let off to scare away evil spirits.”
Crazy Dragon Books sells books on Chinese culture or history, guidebooks and books on Chinese medicine, business, language and martial arts.
Mel explained why they decided to establish this Oriental business on the UK’s east coast: “While in China we noticed that there was a wide range of English-language books from Chinese publishers, but when we returned to Whitby we found that it was almost impossible to find or buy these books in the UK.
“As China becomes more important globally we decided to set up our own business to import and distribute these titles.”
Crazy Dragon Books is an online bookshop and there are plans to open a store in Whitby in 2012.
For more information visit www.crazydragonbooks.co.uk