Yesterday I went to Yaohan Centre for more New Years celebrations, and wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. As I walked through the doors, I saw a man dressed in an elaborate red and gold costume, carrying a small gold chest. I then watched as a woman rushed up to him, flapping her hands and half-screaming with excitement, and thought to myself “Man, this guy must be important.”
And of course, he is. This costumed character was the God of Fortune, a symbol of luck and prosperity in the coming year. Talking to him, touching the gold chest, and especially having your picture taken with him is lucky, so he was a very busy guy. I was able to get a picture with him, so I’m now set for the coming year. Check.
There was also a Mountie present for the ceremonies, and I loved the juxtaposition of two such emblematic figures, both in red.
Like Aberdeen, Yaohan Centre is fully decorated for the New Year, and was busy with shoppers, families, and plenty of “Gung Hay Fat Choys!” exchanged between friends.
Each year, Yaohan centre celebrates the New Year with traditional ceremonies and performances, and yesterday many Richmond dignitaries were present. It began outside with speeches, a lion dance, dragon dance, and the lighting of firecrackers.
Though often mistaken for the dragon dance, the lion dance is performed by two people (two per lion, with their faces covered), while the dragon dance is performed by multiple people, with the dragon held up on poles.
Both are intricately choreographed, and set to music. This was my first time watching the dragon dance, and I found it to be remarkably elegant.
Next we moved inside, and watched one of the most remarkable feats of theatrical and athletic skill I’ve ever seen.
Two men, acting together as one lion, jumped up on a set of small, raised platforms.
They danced and jumped from platform to platform, requiring coordination and strength beyond my comprehension. I mean, the back guy was bent over the entire time! It was utterly astounding.
Here’s that broken down:
Unreal. This is not a sport/art I will be taking up.
The lion also ate lettuce and spat it back out at the audience for good luck. Inside the lettuce were red packets filled with money, which were also (gently) spat back out, one for each dignitary!
Afterwards, the lions performed ceremonies for each of the businesses in the mall, and I found myself something to eat.
I was hungry, but after our feast the night before I was definitely feeling the need for something light. I stuck to the food court in Yaohan Centre and ordered lunch from Chun Hing Cuisine.
Their 3 dish + rice/noodle combo was less than eight dollars, and enormous. They have a number of deep-fried items on offer, but also a lot of vegetables, so you can still easily put together a relatively healthy vegetarian meal.
I chose rice with gai lan, eggplant, and tofu. The gai lan was stir-fried with garlic, and the eggplant was flavourful and stew-like. It was exactly what I wanted, and incredibly filling.
After about five laps of the bakery, I finally settled on a container of black sesame peanut crunch. They looked like small, thick slices of charcoal, and were nutty, crunchy, and dangerously addictive.
In the spirit of the New Year, I managed to share them with others. I can’t let all my God of Fortune good luck go to waste by being greedy….
Continued greetings and good fortune in the new year to all, AND a very happy Family Day to those in British Columbia!
ps – I can’t believe today is #250. Already.