With the Year of the Monkey already here, as so often happens at this time, I miss my Chinese friends. So, I thought I’d share some memories of the most fabulous Chinese New Year I’ve ever had – one which marked the start of a pretty amazing year for me, 2011.
Here’s some photos from the Year of The Rabbit Lantern Festival—a year which turned out unpredictably corny at times, but wonderfully fun.
I was incredibly lucky when my Xianese friends, S and D, invited me to the Small Goose Pagoda and shared their wonderful traditions. It was such a treat.
After a long lunch, we arrived at the Small Goose Pagoda, survivor of many earthquakes. The grounds had morphed into a fairyland with families, groups of friends, and singles all wandering about with smiles.
I couldn’t figure what he was doing at first.
My friends explained that those fantastic animals were, in fact, spun sugar– blown like glass, and completely edible!
No, I didn’t try some. I’d rather look at art than eat it.
Nothing of the sort happened until I did something I almost never do, and tried one of the fun poses my friends find so amusing.
We stopped for a few minutes at a large group of people. It took me a moment to realize we were watching Shadow Puppet Theatre. This artform is quite an ancient form of entertainment. It’s easy to imagine ancient Emperors and their courts turned out for movie-night…
Here’s where the real magic happens (for me anyway) during Lantern Festival.
This is a miniature replica of the Pagoda, which still serves as temple. This is where you do your new year’s prayer. Little candles are ceremoniously lit and placed upon the pagoda. S, D, and I placed candles and welcomed in the Year of the Rabbit.
This looks like a Valentine’s Wall, but it’s actually the next step in welcoming in the new year.
Once your light is up on the mini-pagoda, you write your wishes for the year on the back of a heart, then stick it on the wall with all the other visitors.
It’s very personal and a tradition I quite like. There might be something in it too. Though all my wishes didn’t all come true, some of them actually did! S, D, and I made sure we didn’t peek at each other’s wishes. That would be very rude indeed!
Some wishes were extra special, we reckoned. Where would you have placed your heart?
As dusk approached, we walked into another section which amazed me with its creativity. Whichever way I look at it, Shaanxi rocks!
This huge rabbit was extra special.
Stepping closer, I found out why.
That’s all corn!
No wonder that year turned out a little corny!
That’s KwanYin or GuanYin, my favourite of the Chinese pantheon. I’m always happy to visit her, and thought she looked quite wonderful here.
Here’s my favourite art/display, a china dragon.
Yep, that’s actual dinner service pieces making up this amazing dragon!
She’s Chang E, the rabbit’s friend on the moon from the Chinese folktale.
This magical start to an amazing year didn’t end there.
I think I flew out that same night to Yulin. Ascending over Xian, I got to see the most fantastic sight from my window seat.
Below, fireworks blossomed and waved, accompanied by thousands of bright floating lanterns like sprinkled fairy-dust. And I felt truly blessed.
Back in Yulin, closer to midnight, the squares were also filled with excited families sending their wishes and goodwill into the ether on those red lanterns.
Magical. Corny. Fill of friendship, love and great stuff—a pretty near perfect year.
you a magical, fun
Chinese New Year!