How is the Year of the Goat treating everyone? Or, as some of the cool kids in Hong Kong say, the Year of the Greatest of All Time? This year I was lucky enough to experience a little bit of the Chinese New Year in both Hong Kong and Taiwan! I even managed to collect a few red envelopes. But I have learned from my colleagues that, if I get married, I would be expected to hand out red envelopes to my younger or unmarried relatives and co-workers. I think that I’ll go ahead and put off marriage while I am still in Hong Kong!
I ended up spending more of the Chinese New Year holiday in Taiwan than I did in Hong Kong. So I won’t be able to compare and contrast! But throughout the end of January and the month of February, major areas throughout the city were speckled with goats!
Every now and then I will walk home from the office. To do so I walk by the harbor so as to get away from the noise pollution and whizzing taxis on the main road. Also, the harbor offers the best views of Hong Kong! And with the new year, most of the largest skyscrapers were decked out with goat-themed or new year’s-themed lights. And, of course, major malls are going to have a field day with decorations for the new year! I was only passing through one of the designer-brand oriented malls when I caught sight of the above scene of super king goat surrounded by a rainbow assortment of fellow goats!
This next mall decided to play up on the coming of spring as well as the coming of the Year of the Goat. It’s only natural to cover the – sheep – with beautiful pink cherry blossoms instead of fluffy wool since the theme is spring and PINK! Speaking of these sheep…I grew up thinking sheep and goats are more or less interchangeable. So just in case you had the same confusion growing up, sheep and goats are not the same! They diverge when it gets to genus! But remember that English and Chinese words don’t necessarily translate perfectly. So it is perfectly acceptable for the Year of the Goat to be the Year of the Sheep and the Year of the Sheep to be the Year of the Ram. Because in the end it is the year of this: 羊!
I wonder if the malls compete with each other to see who can have the most elaborate display. Or the most original. The most creative. The most charming, etc. etc. The spring-themed mall really went all out decorating even more sheep with unique, hand-knit and crocheted sweaters!
And Hong Kong’s parks aren’t missing out on all the celebration either! I would have loved to go to Victoria Park, Hong Kong Island’s largest park, but I was not able to brave the crowds this year!
But for the most part, I spent Chinese New Year in Taiwan. I decided to have a new adventure. I befriended someone through Couch Surfing who welcomed me to spend Chinese New Year with her family in her hometown. So upon arrival in Taipei, I headed for the bus station and a trip to Miaoli county, an area surrounded by mountains and full of promise for a more authentic CNY celebration compared to the city of Taipei!
The first night I learned a little bit of Chinese chess and Mahjong, but I’ll need more practice if I ever expect to win in the future! The next day involved a trip to the mountains and festivities. In the mountain town, a group of elementary and junior high school students put on several performances while we were there. They were excellent drummers and dancers! They didn’t perform the lion dance on the stage, but they went around to each of the shops to bring them fortune and luck during the new year.
But my favorite part of the festivities was when the gods came out to dance! Aren’t they cute?!
I couldn’t resist getting a picture with the joyful dancing gods! (At one point it was raining – hence the poncho!) Enjoy the Year of the Goat! Happy Chinese New Year! Happy Lunar New Year!