February 20, 2007 Chinese New Year was the main reason I went home this weekend. It was also a nice midpoint between my winter break and spring break. Bonus points! Once I left home, I realized how much I actually liked (or thought I liked) participating in family activities. So this weekend I attempted to relive my childhood as best I could. I spent my Friday night with my grandmother, helping her make dumplings. I rolled and pressed the dough and she stuffed them. It was quite the assembly line. I don’t even really like eating them, but making them was fun and I used to love flattening the dough with her mechanical press when I was a kid. On Saturday, my family came up to the house for lunch (of course, I bragged about my pressing abilities). Then we went to Chinatown for dinner. The food probably was my least favorite thing about Chinese New Year. It differs from take-out…by a lot. So, to answer your question - yes, I do eat General Tso’s Chicken. Everyone does. This year, I vowed to try a little bit of everything. It was a banquet style dinner, and eight dishes rolled out in order for my hungry family. I tried some of it, but now I remember why I used to fill up on food before we left the house.
Sunday, however, was just as I remembered it. After having some dim-sum, we went out into the streets to find the lion heads. Though there were no fireworks this time, it was still very loud. Pressurized cardboard tubes filled with confetti were fired all along Mott St. The sky seemed to be blotted out by the sparkly pieces of foil and paper. Some of the tubes contained red scrolls with various good luck phrases embossed in gold attached to red parachutes. People went crazy for those, like frantic bridesmaids jumping up to catch the bouquet. Even the tourists smacked each other around to get to them. Faint drumming indicated when the lion heads were close by. Lion heads come in a variety of colors (red, green, yellow, and black ones came out on Sunday). If you don’t know what one looks like, you really should google it. They’re extremely decorated and gorgeous, and I wouldn’t do them justice by simply describing them. Each martial arts club had it’s own entourage of a lion head, dancers, drummers, flag bearers, and crowd control. The lion heads made their way down the streets and into the businesses that left red envelopes out for them. They did an elaborate dance in front of the restaurant or shop and "fed" on a head of lettuce to symbolize money, all while the drums were furiously beating. It was a pretty amazing weekend.