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Saturday 23 February 2019

Lunar New Year Festival 2019

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

It's the year of the pig; Ava's favorite animal and coincidentally, the Chinese year she happened to be born in.

Every year I love taking the kids to the various Lunar New Year celebrations around the Bay Area, but given that this year happens to be Ava's favorite animal of all time, it feels a little more special.
Last weekend we braved the rain and headed to Berkeley's Fourth Street shopping district for the annual Lunar New Year festival.

We arrived just as the lion dance was about to begin. Every year the lion dance is based on a story relating to the animal of the year. This year the lion dance was based on the three little pigs story. Children from the crowd was chosen to be a part of the show - acting as the little pigs. They were divided into three groups, those with a house made of straw, those with a house made of sticks and, you guessed it, those with a house made of bricks.

During the lion dance the lions (or are they dragons - I can never tell) one by one destroy the pigs houses. First the straw and then the sticks. The little pigs ran away and joined forces with the pigs in the brick house. When the lions arrived at the brick house they were unable to destroy it, thanks in part to the strength of the bricks, and also to the good lion (or dragon) that fought against them alongside the main pig character. It was a fun, and interactive take on a classic tale.

Once the lion dance was over the girls took part in a few craft activities including a group mosaic piece at a local glass art gallery and making origami pigs at a Japanese paper goods store.

There were also coloring pages and paper lanterns to make but the girls were keen to get onto their favorite part of the festival: going from store to store to collect candy! This is such a cute way to get the kids involved in celebrating the new year. A selection of stores along Fourth and Delaware Streets hand out candy to kids that wish the shop keeper a happy new year by saying "Gung Hay Fat Choy" or "Happy New Year". Or, in the case of one little toddler that we saw "Trick or Treat" works too! The stores that take part feature a cute pig sign in their window. We were lucky enough to be able to get one of these pig signs to take home for Ava. Aren't they cute?

While the girls were collecting their candy from the local stores, the lion dancers also go from store to store. They're not collecting candy though. Instead they lead a procession blessing the stores. It's sun to see but does tend to get a little chaotic along the sidewalk - but that's just part of the fun!

Before the Lunar New Year festivities ended we made sure to get a photo with one of the characters from the lion dance. Mathilde claimed that his persistent smile was "freaking me out, man", hence her face in this shot!

We had such a fun time celebrating at the Lunar New Year festival and tonight the festivities will continue with the Chinese New Year parade in San Francisco.

Stay tuned for more Year of the Pig fun!

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