This year I am fortunate enough to get to celebrate two New Years: the Gregorian New Year's on January 1st and Chinese New Year (Lunar New Year) this year on January 23rd. Chinese New Year celebrations traditionally last for a span over 15 days, but most of the celebrations are the short few days prior to the new year. With so much celebrating going on, and so much to see, I have been trying to experience as much of it as I can. This is a HUGE deal here!
New Year's eve eve I went with a group of teachers to the marina to watch a firework show from the floating stadium. However, the firework show lasted literally about two minutes. Apparently this is a standard expectation as you can refer back to my "Majulah Singapura!" post in August for a similar description of a firework show Singapore style. Although the fireworks were brief, there was other entertainment to be enjoyed, such as a Lion Dance, Dragon show, tons of lanterns, and the Prime Minister was there!
New Year's eve I got to enjoy a real treat. One my co-workers got asked by a Chinese family at his church to attend their family reunion and enjoy a traditional Chinese New Year's meal and was instructed to invite friends. So it was me, James, and one other co-worker and then about 30 members of this man's family all sharing a meal. I felt like Anthony Bourdain minus all the cynicism and swearing. The tradition is that at new years all the brothers of a family get together at the eldest brother's house and bring their entire families. The meal we shared was a style called steamboat. Basically a pot that sits on a gas burner on your table, you add broth, and then whatever you want to cook. It is fun and saves the host from having to cook tons of food for everybody; pretty smart I'd say. Unfortunately, about 80% of what was cooked contained some type of seafood in it (those who know me know I HATE seafood), but I decided that this was a rare opportunity and I would take full advantage of it by trying lots of the seafood. It was either that or be rude and tell the hosts that I don't eat seafood, and in this case my anti-confrontational side won over my disdain for seafood side. It was a lot of fun sitting around the pot, talking, eating different things, and just enjoying the company (a lot of the seafood really wasn't bad either).
After dinner we politely excused ourselves in enough time to try and make it down to Chinatown by midnight to bring in the new year. We had been prepared for how crowded it would be and the crowd definitely met those expectations. As we waiting for the new year to come it started to pour down rain (no surprise there) so we stood there umbrella-less and got to bring in the new year completely soaked.
So now we are in the year of the Dragon. May it be a blessed one for all of you. Gong xi fa cai!
I have no idea what that says
Dragon made of China
Giant lantern of a soldier. Supposed to help bring stability to the new year.
This picture represents 50% of the show
Handmade sugar candy
Eating the tentacle of a squid
The Chinatown crowd
A bit wet
As the clock strikes midnight...