It often surprises Westerners to learn that dragons, the embodiment of evil in their own cultures, are highly favoured in Chinese mythology. This explains the prediction that the Chinese birthrate is set to rise by 10 percent during this most propitious of years, which strikes me as a very poor reproductive strategy, because children born in such a boom year face stiffer competition within their age cohort. I’d be far more likely to aim to have children in a less favoured year, such as that of the rat, although I’d be even more likely to ignore this tosh altogether.
I’m still seriously incapacitated following my accident, but I couldn’t miss our village’s annual lion dance yesterday to welcome the new year. I know that the firecrackers are meant to scare away demons and other evil spirits, but I think the real reason for their use at this time of year is that the Chinese like making a noise. And we certainly had plenty of noise from the longest string of firecrackers I’ve ever seen. It took more than three minutes for the cacophony to end, which more than made up for the disappointing complete absence of firecrackers last year. Some photos follow, and A New Year provides more pictures and an explanation of some of the rituals associated with the lion dance.
Dotting the eyes with ink brings the lion to life.
Lion and firecrackers.
The all-percussion accompaniment to the dance, which is invariably very loud….
…but the firecrackers are louder….
…especially the ‘big bang’ at the end.