Year of the Tiger

It’s Chinese New Year, the most important time of year for the locals. It’s pretty whack-oh for me too, meaning as it does a glorious two-week paid vacation from work, an excuse to attire Zadie in a pink Chinese puffer suit, and making out like a bandit with all the lai see being given to Rufus at kinder. It’s a week-long festival. Here’s a rundown of our celebratory antics to date.

Day 1: This is the day locals get a haircut, clean the house, pay back debts – clean the slate, as it were. We didn’t realise it was the first day, so sadly didn’t do anything of significance. Unless feeding the kids instant macaroni for dinner counts. (Our first knowledge of it being the first day of the new year was the appalling non-openness of the Park’n’Shop. This is taken on the footpath after the dismal discovery. Zadie is devo, Rufus about to chuck a banana. Joel’s quite happy, he knows the instant macaroni gon taste better than anything I proposed to cook.)

Day 2: The junior Kings take advantage of all the locals nursing their ricewine hangovers, and claim the deserted playground.

Day 3: Park’n’Shop reopens. Nutrition restored.

Day 4: Dragon day in Sai Kung. It’s drizzly and misty. Behind all these flags sit the local council and other dignitaries. An endless parade of dragons and lions dance before them.

The dragons then disperse through the town to dance in front of shopfronts and thus draw down blessings on the business for the coming year.

We followed this one to “Shun Kee City Houseware Company”.

It danced in front of a domestic ladder adorned with lai see, to the deafening crash of cymbals and drums. Then – and I haven’t seen this in Australian ‘Chinatown’ Chinese New Year celebrations before – the bloody thing climbed up the ladder. Look how precarious, and dare I say unpropitious:

About 15 dudes rushed to brace the ladder, because can you IMAGINE the bad luck that would befall Shun Kee City Houseware Company if the fucking dragon fell off the ladder on the first fucking day of the lunar year? They may as well barricade the doors right now. Anyway the dragon righted him/itself and achieved its aim of eating the string dangling from the awning, which had $100 notes tied all down it and culminated in a soggy lettuce. I am unsure of the significance of the ritual, and also not sure if it counts as a successful execution since the guy wearing the head bit of the dragon couldn’t manage to chomp the mouth pieces down over the lettuce and after a few wobbly fails, where you could sense the traditionally suited-up proprietor of Shun Kee was about to succumb to an attack of the vapours, clearly reached out a visible hand and grabbed hold of the lettuce and pulled it inside the mouth cavity.

The crowd immediately erupted into a cheer and the drums beat frenetically as men exploded those highly illegal streamer firecracker things all over the street.

There were stacks and stacks of adorable tots there, but dare I say these two were the cutest…?

Kung hei fat choi!


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