Chinatown greeted the New Year with a bang on Sunday, Feb. 10, as hundreds of New Yorkers gathered in the avenues between Broome and Worth Street. By 10 AM, the gray slush of the previous day’s blizzard was already covered with confetti, silly string, and the remains of firecrackers.
New Yorkers brunched on dim sum and sweet egg tarts at the popular restaurants throughout Chinatown. A steady drumbeat could be heard coming from the entrance of the Jing Fong. People craned their heads to see what was going on, and some started clapping and stomping their feet to the infectious rhythm.
The commotion was being caused by a parade of Chinese lion dancers came right into the restaurant and wound their way between tables, with the huge, colorful lion heads blinking and flapping their mouths. A crowd formed around them, snapping photos with their smartphones and feeding red envelopes filled with money into the lions’ jaws.
The lions symbolize luck, wealth, and prosperity, and are believed to bring good fortune to spectators. The dance was a preview of the longer parade event that is to be next Sunday, as the New Year celebrations usually last fifteen days.
At the nearby Sara D. Roosevelt park several food and game stalls were set up. The main attraction, however, was a Chinese opera being performed on the basketball court.
Two performers in traditional Chinese costumes sang in falsetto voices to a large crowd. Several snake-themed decorations could also be seen, as a tribute to the Chinese year 4711, the Year of the Snake.
The order of the twelve animals in the Chinese zodiac is based on an ancient legend, which tells the story of a great race between the animals across a deep river. The snake, knowing it wasn’t the best swimmer, used its cunning to snag the sixth place by slithering around the leg of the horse and hitching a ride to the finish line. The intelligence and keen wit of the snake is believed to exert its influence this year, especially on businesses, education, and careers in general. So for those of you who need a GPA boost, make sure to offer a tribute to the Snake! Xin Nian Kuai Le! Happy New Year!