Happy Lunar New Year, or Happy Chinese New Year. 2020 is the year of the rat, the first of all the zodiac animals. Today we visited China Town in London and saw the lion dance in Trafalgar Square, didn’t have the best views, but we did manage to see a bit on the big screens. I love the lion dance, and find it absolutely adorable when the lions flutter their “ears” and “eyes”. Very colourful costumes and very skilled dancers, leaping on tall small poles, the lion dance is meant to bring good luck and is often performed at festivals or sometimes when new businesses open.
I recall last year seeing a lion dance inside a restaurant in China Town and the owners of the establishment gave the lion a cabbage, to which it “ate” and then “spat out” into the watching crowd. Very entertaining and I imagine it is also very symbolic to bring good luck and fortune to these businesses. Every year there is a parade as well, and this year again we got up too late to see it. But we did manage to see and hear a few other performers entertaining the crowds near and around China Town.
Every year we also try to not eat meat, and over the years I have been told there are various other things we must or must not do on Lunar New Year. The list is long, but essentially no meat (in respect of the Buddhist gods), no clothes washing (in respect of the water god’s birthday), no sweeping (to avoid sweeping away wealth), no hair cutting (as scissors symbolise cutting wealth and hair also symbolises wealth). Essentially, rules or superstitions to follow to try to start the year auspiciously. An easy one is to wear red, which is deemed a lucky colour. This is why the lanterns and decorations hung up are usually red, this was inside the bookshop Foyles in the Asian literature section:
This year my work got fortune cookies with inspiring fortunes, which was a nice touch, even if they were originally American and not Chinese. I also brought in traditional cookie rolls from China Town to share, so crumbly yet so delicious.
And when in China Town I also cannot resist buying and eating egg tarts and pineapple buns. I’m not sure if there is any actual pineapple in the buns, but there is definitely egg in the egg tarts.
I wonder if the lanterns and decorations will stay up for a few more months before being taken down. Either way, in this somewhat dreary time of year it’s nice to see some brightness around. Happy Lunar New Year and many happy returns!