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Sunday 25 February 2018

Lunar New Year in Berkeley 2018

This weekend we had hoped to head into the city to watch the annual Chinese New Year parade in Chinatown. Unfortunately Ava has been sick with the flu, so a trip to the city and sitting outside in the cold for hours were off the cards. We've had a pretty quiet weekend at home instead, and I've been thinking back to last weekend when we celebrate the Lunar New Year here in Berkeley. 

Every year Berkeley's Fourth Street shops are home to a small Lunar New Year festival. The festival features martial arts demonstrations, crafts for kids, lion dances, a store blessing procession, and the girls' favorite part, stores handing out candy to kids. Candy is always the best part of any festival or parade if you ask my kids!

Here's a look back at last weekend's festival...

The lion dance is always a highlight of the festival. A lion dance featuring many lions is always first followed by a story that features the animal of the year. Children from the audience are called to join in, and as this year is the year of the dog, the children took part in the performance as puppies. In the past Ava and Lola have taken part but this time they weren't selected. The story for the lion dance involved two bad guys capturing a baby lion and locking it up. The good guy, a dog and all the puppies come along to try and rescue the baby lion but get trapped as well. The big lion arrives, fights the bad guys, wins (of course) and releases everyone from the trap. Hooray!

This little girl in red was just the cutest. She took the performance very seriously and at one point broke out of the trap to yell at the bad guys - who had a hard time keeping a straight face!

After the lion dance was finished the girls made their way from store to store collecting candy. All they had to do was look for stores with a dog sign in the window and wish the staff "Gung hay fat choy" or "Happy new year" and they were treated to a piece of candy. Of course, this was the girls' favorite part of the festival.

The girls also got to make a few different crafts. They made paper lanterns and origami dogs, and also helped add pieces to a glass mosaic dog.

Being the year of the dog, there were plenty of dogs at the festival. We were all pretty impressed with this dreadlocked Italian sheepdog. Well, maybe Mathilde wasn't so impressed. She wasn't quite sure what to think of it!

My favorite part of the festival is the store blessing procession. The lion dancers and a group of (very loud) musicians go from store to store along Fourth Street giving blessings for the new year. It's kind of chaotic and noisy, but it's a lot of fun to see.

Unlike this past week, it was a pretty warm and sunny day for the Lunar New Year festival. Such a warm and sunny day called for ice cream! We stopped by Three Twins for a delicious frozen treat.

We had such a lovely day out at the Lunar New Year festival.

Is the Lunar New Year celebrated where you live? I love how multicultural the Bay Area is and that my kids get to take part in celebrations from all around the world.

Gung hay fat choy!

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