Lunar New Year in Chinatown

March 24, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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A poster for the festivities

Lunar New Year was actually quite the celebration here. Aside from a big festival that occurred a couple blocks from here — albeit in some very cold rain — it was really a neat experience. Uwajimaya was packed, of course — mostly with Asian people buying (what I assume to be) various traditional new-year foods. There were lion dances and dragon dances and fireworks and people throwing cabbages up in the air. (I’m still not really clear on the reasoning behind the cabbage tossing.)

Aside from that, though, I was amazed at how many businesses got into it. The bookstore around the corner had rabbit t-shirts  (since it’s the year of the rabbit), all kinds of stores had rabbit tchotchkes (keychains, figurines, dangly things to attach to cell phones, pens, erasers, mirrors, etc.). And even the Wells Fargo here had a sign on its door offering a new-year-themed rabbit piggybank if you open a new account. Maybe that was a nationwide campaign, but I certainly have never seen anything like that any of the other places I’ve lived.

The dragon/lion dances were fun to watch. After seeing one up close one weekend, we were surprised to be awakened the next weekend by the bang-bang-banging on a gong/drum thing. When I looked out the window, I could see another lion/dragon dance occurring a block away, complete with flags and fireworks and banging. From our third-floor window, I was able to watch them walk up and down each block. They’d stop from time to time at one business or another and then the banging would change tempo and more fireworks would go off. Then, ten minutes later, they’d slowly march down another street, around another corner, to another business. And then more banging, more dancing, more fireworks. It was neat to see.

…for a while. I woke up from it around 11, and by 12:30 the magic had worn off. Then at 1:30 it had really worn off, and by 2:30 I was really ready for them to stop (which occurred around 3). As it turned out, somehow the lunar new year celebrations spanned three whole weekends. You can imagine my surprise when I was awakened the next weekend by still more banging and dancing and fireworks. Fortunately, that was the end of it. An experience I was glad to have, though really I would have been glad if it lasted 1/10th as long.

Anyway, please enjoy these lion/dragon dance photos!

(PS: A lion dance is two guys in a lion suit. A dragon dance is a bunch of guys holding sticks that form the dragon’s body like the legs of a caterpillar.)

Dragon dance in the rain

More dragon

A lion

The procession that occurred for the next two weekends. (This photo taken from our apartment.)

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