Thursday, February 18, 2010


"Gong xi fa cái! Hóng bao ná lái"! or in Cantonese style...Gong Hey Fat Choy!
Roughly: "Congratulations and be prosperous, now give me a red envelope!"

It's been a busy week here. The Lunar New Year fell on Valentine's Day for the first time in 77 years so we had to switch locations quickly over last weekend to make room for the many (better paying) visitors ;-) and then move back. We're so glad we're here to see this celebration. Amazing! This is the biggest celebration of the year. Chinese New Year is also called Spring Festival, which is a 15-day celebration that ends with the Lantern Festival and is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. The holiday means new life which brings new hope and new happiness. :-)

In the first photo the girls show their hong bao (red envelopes) they recieved. Typically the kids receive a lot of hong bao filled with at least 5 dollars but hopefully the red hundred bill! We were told that kids could receive around $2000 each Lunar New Year! To celebrate a little more, we peeled and ate mandarin oranges, ate some fish for lunch and left a little on the plate (to signify abundance in the New Year)... however we didn't do much house cleaning or get haircuts.

The next photos show the Lion Dance. There are many different stories about why the Lion Dance is performed but it seems most of the traditions have to do with warding off evil and welcoming good things, including prosperity. In Saipan the Lion Dance Troupe travels from shop to shop for two days. The two lions dance and play fight to reach the lettuce hanging from the ceiling all while loud cymbals and drums are played. Lettuce is used because the Chinese word for lettuce sounds like money. The lion has to shred the lettuce and tucked inside is an envelope with money. The long string of red firecrackers are lit at the end of the dance to ward off evil spirits. Super loud!!! The last photo shows the shredded lettuce and paper from the firecrackers - they look like rose petals scattered on the ground and for more luck they shouldn't be swept up.

At the end of the day we could smell oranges and gunpowder in the air. :-)

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