Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Chinese New Year- Pt. One - Fireworks, Lion Dances and Fun

Hey all,

As I mentioned, Jonathon and I were fortunate to be here in Singapore during the Chinese New Year. Now I consider myself a patriotic type of gal, but I have to tell you, these Singaporeans knocked me outta my sandals with how they celebrate their new year!!!!

I always thought New York's Time Square rocked, but I have to tell you, Chinatown was something like I've never seen during this special Asian holiday.

First off, a little background--(a very little, I don't want to get boring here.)

The origins of the Chinese New Year celebrations were born out of fear and myth. Legend spoke of the wild beast Nien (which also is the word for "year") that appeared at the end of each year, attacking and killing villagers. Loud noises and bright lights were used to scare the beast away, and the Chinese New Year celebrations were born.

For more information on the Chinese New Year, go to http://www.history.com/content/chinesenewyear

The Chinese New Year is a bit different than ours. It isn't just a couple of days (New Year's Eve and then the day). It is more of a two week celebration that people really get into. I've been at some really great New Year parties, but I gotta tell you, what I saw here makes every one of those pale in comparison.

Let's start with fireworks. Of course they'd have great ones, they invented the things. It's amazing just how pretty they can be over scenery that you aren't used to seeing. I'll have more pics up on my website, but for now, you can see a few of them here. My camera isn't great at night pics, but you'll get the drift!

Fireworks over Clarke Quay, near our hotel


















These fireworks are ones done near Merlion Park over the Singapore Flyer.





































I'll add this one in...it was actually in the Chingay Parade, but they set off firecrackers. Now I have to tell you...these are not your daddy's firecrackers. When they set these things off, you couldn't hear, breathe or think. I told Jonathon later, it must be what being on the front line of a war was like. In a word, terrifying! In this pic you can see some of what's going on as they did it. I couldn't take any more pics. Seriously, I was blinded and fighting for breath.



















Now, this next portion of the blog is something strictly Asian. At least I'd never seen it before in all my years and it was absolutely amazing. It's called the Lion Dance and they use it to celebrate not only the New Year but many things. The origins are as follows...

The Chinese Lion Dance goes back some one thousand years. The first record of the performance of an early form of the Lion Dance dates to the early Ch’in and Han Dynasties (Third Century B.C.) The lions express joy and happiness. From the fourth day to the fifteenth of the New Year, lion dance groups would tour from village to village in traditional China.

For more information on the Lion Dance, go to http://www.chcp.org/lion.html

Anyway, like I said, this dance is amazing. I've got lots of pics, and even a few videos that I will share. But the dexterity of these acrobats as they do these dances are amazing. They make the lions come alive and when they do the dances up on poles, well, let's just say I was totally impressed. I'll have more up on my website when Jonathon shows me how to upload to Youtube.




















































And finally, for this blog, the fun part. Now actually I've already shown some of that--fireworks and dancing is a lot of fun-- but for me the overall fun part was watching the Singaporean people as they celebrated their special holiday.

Young, old and every age in between really gets into this thing. It was none the more evident on the New Year's Eve when I was walking around in Chinatown. It was crowded. Think what it looks like at Time Square and then double that in a very small two square block area. Seriously, it was like being pressed together in a very happy sauna. LOL

It is like a carnival atmosphere, with hawkers screaming about their newest wares. (the shamy guy would do great over here!) There are taste treats to try, everything from fried eel to cookies to Indonesian coconut milk, right in the coconut. (good, but not my fave) There are special CNY decorations everywhere and beautiful clothes, trinkets and gifts abound. Everywhere you look there is something new and interesting.

I sat and watched a hawker sell those hair thingys. You know--the ones where you can weave your hair into impossibly beautiful ornate knots? I was amazed at the response. Not just women crowded around him, but a lot of men too. Ooohing and aaahing over what he was doing. I tell you, if you're a saleman, you need to be in Singapore. These people get crazy over all kinds of things. LOL

Anyway, here are a few more pics of the overall New Years in Chinatown. It's so hard to describe the energy, joy and pleasure these people get out of it.




































So there you have it. Your first of four CYN blogs. Let me know what you think... Tomorrow I'll share with you the fun and amusing tradition of Lo Hei--the tossing of Luck!

Oh, and I will be out of computer range for the next few days. Jonathon is taking me to a resort in Indonesia, so I won't be able to send out reminders for the blog. Make sure you come on back and tell your friends all about it!!!!

Take care!

CJ England
http://www.cjengland.com/home/Do%20Me%20A%20Favor100x154.jpg
Follow Your Dreams







12 comments:

Stephanie said...

That is just Amazing Cj! You're so terrific for sharing your trip with us. I look forward coming here everyday to see what you have to show us.

I love all the colors of the fireworks and the lion dance is just beautiful from your pics.
Thanks for looking up the extra info as well. I'm sure you'll have inspiration coming out your ears for the next few years!

Julie said...

Those fireworks sound like my kind of fun. You know me I love to blow things up. LOL

I love the all the pics I can't wait to see more.

Sultry Summers said...

What a wonderful place! Just don't run into any old mummy Emperors like in the movies LOL. Glad to see you having such a good time, wish I were there.
Sultry

Connie Northrop said...

Awesome pics CJ! It looks like you've been having a lot of fun!!

sjrlive said...

WOW CJ!
Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I’m enjoying it to the max! It's the next best thing to being there for me. The pictures are Great. You go, CJ!
Sara J. ~ : - ]
sjr1groups@yahoo.com

Phylis said...

Fantastic pics CJ! I saw a deal on PBS I think about the New Year celebrations for China. I was stunned on what they do. Have you seen them put the wishes on paper and then burn them? Also the different paper gods? Can you toss some luck my way? THANKS! LOL

CJ England said...

Stephanie,

Thanks! I wish I could pack you all in my pocket and have you come with me, it's that good!

And the hard part is deciding what book to do first! LOL

CJ

CJ England said...

Julie,

Today I'm going to upload a bunch to photobucket. It's quicker and easier and that way you can see everything!

CJ

CJ England said...

LOL Sultry,

Actually, we are planning a trip to the actual Terracotta tombs in the spring before we come home. I've always wanted to see them, the Forbidden City and the Great Wall.

CJ

CJ England said...

Connie,

I'm exhausted. LOL Today, I'm just staying at home and writing. It's worth the tiredness though, since there is so much to see and do.

CJ

CJ England said...

Thanks, Sara J.

I'm so enjoying myself and I count Jonathon and I as so lucky. Having his job keep us here makes it a lot easier to do all these things. Otherwise we'd have to be millionaires to make it happen!

CJ

CJ England said...

Phylis,

I didn't see the burning of wishes, but in December I think it was, Jonathon participated in a ceremony where you write down a wish and send it sailing out into the sea on a little junk. (boat) Very cool!

Luck is on it's way! LOL

CJ