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!!!!
Follow Your Dreams