Chinese New Year in Hawaii is always an incredibly big deal. In fact, the smell of gunpowder from fire crackers and fire works goes on for days after. If you head down to Hawaii’s chinatown on the night of Chinese New Year, you will be assaulted by colors and sounds as you are caught up in lion dances. There is mochi pounding and other annual celebrations that take place around the Chinese New Year as well.
I’m not sure why the Chinese New Year has always been a big deal to me, but I blame it primarily on my grand-mother. We used to call her the dragon lady and despite being mostly Scottish, she was easily mistaken for a Chinese lady in her later years. Maybe it was the Tiger Balm, maybe it was the years of living in Singapore, and maybe it was some inner Chinese woman coming out. In any event, she passed on that aesthetic and love of the far East to me.
I remember we used to go to Chinese food to celebrate the Chinese New Year, which was a pretty big deal to a kid from small mountain towns in California and Oregon. The fortune cookies, the hot and sour soup, and of course the waving kitties that always sit on the counter. I watched a comedian, Tom Papa, the other day and he had a very funnny bit of stand up about how the cats are the ones running a Chinese grocery. If my grandmother was there, people would probably ask her to help them – she would look like the ancient woman running the place with her big glasses, silk blouses, and tiny stature. Sadly, she is long gone now, but well remembered and loved in our family.
In any event, she has me thinking about the Chinese New Year again – even years after her death. I remember celebrating it in Hawaii and also in Vancouver, British Columbia. Sadly, I missed it by just a few weeks when I went to China – but I don’t think that would be my first place to go celebrate it. I’d like to go to either Sydney or London – I’ve heard that Chinese New Year in Trafalgar Square is the most extensive celebration in the West. With more than 300,000 people, I can’t imagine how crazy it must be!
London’s Chinese New Year from LondonTown.com
This year is special. It is the year of the wood horse.The Chinese New Year is January 31st and will be celebrated on February 2nd in London. If I were there, I would most likely grab a hotel room at the High Kensington and eat eat eat the delicious Chinese fare available from street food vendors and enjoy the music, cultural demonstrations, and general feeling of excitement that seems to come with the Chinese New Year.
The Horse in Chinese Astrology is an auspicious sign. China was built by Genghis Khan using horses and thus it is a sign of speedy success and favorable outcomes. Of course, if you want to really know what is in store for you, you need to find your Chinese Horoscope sign and look further into the murky depths of the future. You can find plenty of places online but my suggestion is that you get into the spirit of things and head to a Chinese New Year celebration, find a Chinese astrologer, and learn what challenges and victories await you.
Good luck, my friends. Do you have a Chinese New Year Tradition? What is it?