Chinese New Year
Yesterday I celebrated the Chinese New Year with dim sum and a lion dance show at Li Wah restaurant in Cleveland’s Chinatown. That’s right, Cleveland has a Chinatown. Actually, it’s technically called Asiatown but everything in the Asia plaza, where I was, seems to be Chinese. I was surprised to find that there were so many people in NE Ohio that speak cantonese and that this culture is thriving in Cleveland.
I was invited to celebrate the new year with my buddy Dave and his family, who are Chinese. Many of them speak cantonese, which is awesome. Dave’s uncle ordered everything and handled all communications, of which there were many. For those who have never been for dim sum, you sit at a big table and the waitresses push these carts around with a bunch of weird little Chinese foods on them and you ask for whatever you want. It was good that we had native speakers with us because I had no idea what any of the foods were or how you would even begin to ask for them! The food just keeps coming, wave after wave. It’s a little excessive actually and I think the idea is to eat yourself sick. It’s kind of amazing how some of these guys can pack it away.
Midway through the meal, the lion dance began. This is a Chinese new year tradition where two people get inside a lion costume and dance around the restaurant to the sound of drums and cymbals.
The lion visits each table and where each person puts a little red envelope with money in it into his mouth.
The lion parades and dances around the entire restaurant and when he has visited every table a cabbage is hung from the ceiling for him to eat. Apparently lions like cabbage.
The lion then climbs up on a wooden platform and eats the cabbage. The guy inside the lion costume shreds up the lettuce inside the head and then makes the lion puke cabbage everywhere. I have no idea what this symbolizes, but i’m sure it has something to do with good luck.
All in all this was a thoroughly Asian affair. It was crowded, loud, and pretty colorful. Total sensory overload! Lot’s of fun!