Year of no draggin’!
February means Chinese New Year. The lunar calendar makes it a movable feast. And in San Francisco – the biggest Chinatown in the country!! – it is a great celebration dating back to the 1860s. Now it features a wonderful illuminated night parade. This year it happens February 11. February in Quirkutopia means not just possible, but very probable rain. The Chinese New Year’s parade goes on regardless. Everyone wishes each other Gung Hay Fat Choy, not a delicious dim sum like it sounds – roughly translated it means good fortune and long life. There are lots of firecrackers, whole strings of them at the end to scare demons away. The street sweepers confront the drifts of exploded red paper strings for hours afterwards.
There’s a street fair full of more junk toys and more good food than you can possibly imagine. This year is especially festive since it is the Year of the Dragon – meaning it’s a year of rising fortunes and good luck. The usual dragons in the parade are likely to be even more embellished. Let’s hope Chinese astrology works for the whole country. Tully the bearded dragon is a featured guest of honor during the festival at the San Francisco Zoo , where they also have a “ Chinese Zodiac tour” of representative animals. Now there’s one you cannot try with the Western Zodiac; a centaur may be as scarce as a grown virgin maiden – but this is Quirkutopia and anything is possible.
If you can’t make it to San Francisco, or don’t want to get rained on, just watch it on television and follow these traditional tips: serve up some noodles for long life (don’t cut them!), lettuce wraps –as the word for lettuce sounds like the one for “rising fortune”, some spring rolls for prosperity, and a whole fish – the head and tail left on for good beginnings and good endings. Also hand out mandarin oranges and tangerines. Kids get red and gold envelopes filled with money. Everyone cleans house the days before to sweep out bad luck, then they don’t sweep for a few days after so as NOT to sweep out the new good luck. Do all that, hang some red paper cutouts on your door and wear red to invite luck and everyone will think you are Chinese, too. Gung Hay Fat Choy to you all.