On Tuesday there was the Lunar New Year 2022 and the year of the water tiger started. I took the bus down to NYC’s Chinatown to watch the celebrations. Attending them had been on my bucket list for years [even last week I wasn’t sure I would see them this year], but for some reason I never made it – until this year.
The main Lunar New Year celebration in Chinatown took place in the Sara D. Roosevelt Park. Like many other people I watched a company set up firecrackers, a dragon walk through the crowd, a little 7-year-old boy sing a piece of Peking opera, … Two presenters from the Chinese community lead through the show and alternated between presenting in English and in Chinese. Political representatives, including mayor Adams, gave short speeches. I enjoyed the positive atmosphere. Everybody was eager to start the new year and hope for better times. (Chinatown was hit hard by the pandemic.)
Eventually, the celebration culminated in a lion dance and then the firecrackers were lighted. I found that impressive, esp. considering that it was the middle of the day. Still, they were well visible and burned for quite a while. Afterwards, dance group started dancing in the square, while the crowd popped big confetti cannons.
I decided to walk more to the center of Chinatown. While many stores were closed on that day, shops selling confetti cannons and decorations were open and widely popular. I purchased a sign with a tiger wishing a happy new year and a little tiger figure with bells as well as sparklers and bang snaps. That was not because I wanted to use them on that day, but I never know where to buy them for our New Year’s Eve in December.
Chinatown’s streets were full of people. They even blocked some streets from traffic. I could hear drums from afar – they accompanied lion dances. Most people wandered around as well and constantly popped confetti cannons or threw bang snaps. Many restaurants had lines because it was just after noon.
I soaked in the atmosphere of a cultural celebration that is so different to what I used to know. To me Chinatown has this special magic – whenever I go to that neighborhood, I feel like delving into a different culture. Besides watching people, I also visited a few stores. Besides the things I mentioned above, I also bought a few goods from bakeries and some frozen buns and instant milk tea from a supermarket.
I surprised myself with having enough energy to walk around for several hours before I had a late lunch in a restaurant I had been to several times: Sun Sai Gai. Their wonton duck noodle soup does not only cost $10, but it is also big and super tasty. Also, I love hot soups in winter. Afterwards, I took the subway home.
I really enjoyed the Lunar New Year celebrations. First of all, they were in the middle of the day, which made it much more fun because I was wide awake anyways. Everybody was in such a good mood (plus everyone constantly wore a mask, even outside). I really enjoyed gaining a small glimpse into the celebrations that are in some ways similar to the western ones, but then again also seem quite different.
The celebrations actually continue for 15 days, also in New York City. If I feel up to it, I would love to see some more of them. In any case, being the crazy cat lady I am, I am obviously also happy that our baby will be born in the year of the tiger 🙂