It’s the year of the rat! I feel privileged to witness the Chinese New Year in Penang, where the majority of the population is Chinese.
Legend has it that a monster was haunting a village, but it was afraid of red, and loud sounds: so still today on Chinese New Year, decorations and clothing are red, and you hear firecrackers all over the city.
The lion dance is surreal: two lions (two people for each costume) go around markets or houses taking people’s donations of money in red envelopes, oranges, and lettuce.
They then perform the lion dance, eat the orange or lettuce and spit them back at the audience or the owner of the house, for good luck. At the end, the lions reveal a scroll with heaven-sent messages and good wishes (at a house they give it to the owner).
Such a happy, energetic, and artistic tradition to start the new lunar year, I’m a fan!
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