Chinatown is an area I criss-cross through often when I’m traveling here and there in London. Yesterday, while going to pick up a goat good luck charm for the Chinese New Year, we happened upon the lion dance.
This is one of my favourite things to see! Every year, usually by chance, we come across this tradition being performed. There are two performers inside of the costume (which is how you know it is a lion and not a dragon dance) and they go from door to door performing “cai qing” which translates to, “plucking the greens”. The lion dances around the doorway where the greens are hung, moving cat like backwards and forwards, or bending low as if hunting prey and slowly works his way up to pulling the greens down.
Occasionally we’ve seen a shop put out oranges on a small table to which the lion happily gobbles up. Yesterday one store on the second floor placed their greens, tied to a stick, out through the window. The acrobatic team worked with each other, standing on shoulders and stretching the lion’s neck, they plucked the greens from the second story window, to the delight of all of us below. There was a lot of cheering.
As we headed out through the gates, the Hippodrome Casino was handing out fortune cookies to advertise their business. Unfortunately, the fortune inside wasn’t a fortune, but was another form of advertisement for a big gaming event. But, Mr. Michie didn’t know that, he only saw the side written in Mandarin.
I told him it was I good thing that I could read Mandarin, to which he just stopped and looked at me with raised eyebrows. With a smile, he asked me what the fortune said, to which I replied that it said: “Help! Help! I’m trapped in a fortune cookie factory!” to which we both busted out laughing.
That is a very old joke, but it never gets old! When we were little and would go out for Chinese food with my grandparents and it came time for the fortune cookies to be passed out, we would go around the table and everyone would read their fortune. My Grandpa, would always say:, “Oh, No! You’ll never believe this, my fortune says: Help! Help! I’m trapped in a fortune cookie factory!” to which everyone around the table would bust out laughing and there would be a short pause while my sister and I puzzled this one out for a second! He was a great teaser!
Oh, to be little again! I’m happy that we had the good fortune to see the lion dance again this year, it is always magical to share in this experience.