I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of this Lion Dance in Chinatown (London) today. Many festive performances took place throughout London within the last two weeks to celebrate Chinese New Year ("Year of the Tiger").
The Chinese believe that if business owners "feed" the lion with red envelopes (Ang Pao) filled with lucky money, the lion will chase away evil spirits and bring good fortune and prosperity to the business the upcoming year. My parents were always superstitious people, so when they opened up their first business, they made sure to invite the Lion Dancers to bring prosperity to the business.
There's just something about the drum beats during the dance that brings me back to (somewhat) fond childhood memories. I was always excited to watch Lion Dance performances at local Chinese/Vietnamese supermarkets during Chinese New Year, but as soon as the Lion's long lashes fluttered near me, I suddenly became frightened and quickly hid behind my father. There's just something really creepy about the Lion's eyelashes...
Chinatown is filled with lanterns.
Trafalgar Square hosted many traditional Chinese performances.
I'm suddenly in the mood for Dim Sum, but to be completely honest, the Chinese food in London doesn't compare to the Chinatowns in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
My best friend thought it was a clever idea to send me bags of my favorite chips from the States, Cheetos, in honor of it being the "Year of the Tiger". Unfortunately, Chester is not a tiger, he's a cheetah! Nevertheless, I managed to enjoy the Cheetos and undoubtedly appreciated the kind gesture. Thanks Juan! xx
Chester the Cheetah
How to say "Happy New Year" in Chinese:
Mandarin: Xin Nian Kuai Le (The most widely used Chinese dialect)
Cantonese: Gong Hei Fat Choy (Hong Kong and Macau)
Teochew/Hokkien: Xing Ni Ju Yi (Mainly in South East Asia and Taiwan)
Since I am Teochew, I'd like to say "Xing Ni Ju Yi!"