Kung Hee Fat Choy!
Firecrackers popping, the clang of metal cymbals crashing, drums beating into the night, and the flashing colors of a brilliant Chinese New Year celebration... welcome the Year of the Tiger! Parades and festivals throughout the world are held this month in a celebration now many thousands of years old. Scholars estimate the Chinese calendar began during the reign of Huangdi translating the year 2010 into "chinese year" number 4,708. Or some say 4,707, or could be 4,647, but who's counting? It's a lot of years. In any event this is one heck of a celebration for the family and the greater community.
My favorite part of the holiday is not the Lai Sze, those little red envelopes full of money, or the sweet cakes, sugared fruits, or all the other great dishes served this time of year considered a celebration of the lunar new year, but I look forward to the dragon dance and the lion dance and I've often wondered what the meaning was behind the ritual. After some 21st century research (Wikipedia!) and a call or two to some old timers here is what I learned ...
In ancient China in a village near Shanghai, or so the story is told, villagers feared the springtime attacks of the dreaded "Nian" a dragon-like beast from under the sea (but it also lives high in the mountains so all you Chinese living in the Swiss Alps heed the warning). During the lunar new year the Nian would appear. It looked for adults, children and dogs. The Nian was supposedly sensitive to loud noises and it didn't like the color red. Drums, plates, and bowls were hit to make loud noises. Firecrackers were tossed about, the louder the better, and babies were dressed in bright red, banners and flags of red were flown throughout the village and all of this to scare away the big bad Nian who still exists... or so it is believed... and why not?
So enjoy our wonderful glimpse of downtown Honolulu's celebration of the Year of the Tiger, wear your red, and Kung Hee Fat Choy! Life is good.
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