Friday, February 4, 2011

Happy New Year, Chinese-Style!

This past Thursday marked the New Year on the Chinese calendar, meaning that it is now the year of the Rabbit (I’m not totally sure of the significance of that, but I’m sure it’s important).  There is a large population of Chinese people who live in Tarakan, and as the big day drew near I could tell who was celebrating as people adorned their homes with red Chinese lanterns and large paper pineapples.  On the street our house is off of I noticed many Chinese people sprucing up their houses-painting their fences, putting out pots of flowers-to get ready for the holiday.  As is customary at most major holidays in Indonesia, the main event is really visiting people and having people over to your house to eat, talk and celebrate.  A local restaurant owned by Chinese people that we MAFers frequent invited the MAF team to come and watch a traditional dragon dance and stay for lunch afterwards.  Above is a picture of one of the dragons, which were fun, but a little scary for some of the kids.  The dragons get really close to the crowd, wink their eyes, wiggle their ears and open and shut their big mouths!  One person is the front legs of the dragon and controls the head, and another is the back legs.  They did a great job dancing to loud drumbeats and were rewarded by envelopes of money, which they gobbled up with their giant jaws. 

Here He Comes!

Who's Touching My Tail?

Face Off!

Look at Those Colors!

The Musicians  
It was a festive atmosphere and everyone was having fun, especially the brave kids who would run up behind the dragon and pull his tail, then run away before the dragon came after them!  Lunch after was one of my favorite Indonesian meals, Soto Ayam, which is a chicken soup with thin noodles, rice, eggs, and crunchy fried onions.  It is usually flavored with either lemongrass or ginger.  It was delicious!

When Chris came home from work he got a call from one of his Chinese friends inviting us over to celebrate.  We had fun meeting Chris’s friend’s family, including his elderly mother and father who kept telling me to eat more and more!  We also had Soto there, but I didn’t mind a bit because it was even yummier than at the restaurant earlier that day.  As we left, our friend’s mother got me a baggie to fill with cashews that were glazed with something like sweet soy sauce-I didn’t argue because they were so good!  And really, you don't argue with a sweet, insistent senior mama, do you?  Of course you don't!  It was really neat to learn about the some of the New Years customs and traditions of the Chinese culture, and we are blessed to enjoy the hospitality of Chinese friends.

Besides the festivities on Thursday it has been another quiet week.  More posts to come soon about our day at the beach last weekend and about some of the treats Chris is able to bring home from flying to the jungle villages.  Oh yeah, and that walking tour post I promised too…I better get busy writing!  For now, Happy New Year-Chinese New Year that is! 

1 comment:

  1. It looks as if the person in the rear of the dragon has to stand bent over the whole time. Unless it is a kid or a little person (I hope I am being politically correct here). I would hate to have to stay bent/hunched over while trying to move around/dance!