Year of the Dragon, baby. Everyone has probably made their resolutions already, maybe even defaulted on them at this point. Here in the west we celebrate the new year on the first of January. It is like a dessert holiday for Christmas. Every one makes a bunch of promises they won’t fulfill and tries to tell themselves that things will be different this time. In the east the new year is celebrated on a Lunar calendar. Depending on the year the date changes, technically the Lunar new year is the 23rd of this month, but last night I was lucky enough to attend UWF’s Lunar New Year festival. It wasn’t strictly Chinese either, it was more like a cultural exchange for the Asian demographic at the university and I had a blast.
Free boba tea and a full buffet! As much Lo Mein as you can eat, and the tapioca pearls! Aside from that there was a booth recruiting people for a Korean pop dance team ( It seems I signed up for it. ). Honestly I was not expecting as much, but they really went all out. If you have never seen a Chinese Lion Dance you haven’t had a Lunar New Year.
A man was giving out goldfish in plastic bags, it was a sort of game where you cast a fishing pole behind a table and the man tells you that you’ve caught one. Next thing I knew I had a small pale fish in a tight little bag nestled in my arm. I didn’t even think about the implications of this upon approaching the booth. Just a little goldfish, it wasn’t a big deal. I wasn’t adopting a child or anything. A harmless game of fishing with the man behind the counter just smiling, knowing well what he is about to do to me. Now the little guy is keeping me company, I feel kindred to him. I am stuck in a small bag too.
The thing that really blew me out of the water was the Matsuriza Taiko performance. Blew me out of the water. Taiko are drums that have been used for Shinto festivals in Japan since ancient times. Taiko is severe, Taiko is cerebral. The Taiko was accompanied by Shamisen, which is a fret-less 3 stringed instrument traditionally played by Geisha as a form of entertainment, kind of like a Japanese banjo but without all the Deliverance connotations. Matsuriza Taiko was founded by Takemasa Ishikura and as the literature says “Taiko reflects the spirit and essence of the Japanese people.”
So we are in the year of the Dragon now, and all of us think the world may end but truly it has only begun. As I sit here with Alabaster (my goldfish) and write this piece I can only dream of what this metal horse will tackle throughout the course of the year. Stay strong and carry on kiddos.