Today, Chinatown in Washington D.C. celebrated the 4711 Chinese Lunar New Year. A tradition well established in the Chinese culture that is based on a lunar calender. According to legend, the beginning of the Chinese New Year began when villagers began to place food offerings outside of their home to fight off Nian. A mythical beast that would come on New Year’s Day and eat livestock, children and villagers. Villagers also believed that Nian was afraid of the color red, and began dressing their children in red for protection.
This year’s celebration is for the “Year of the Snake” and with an early arrival I was able to discover the staging area where entertainers and musicians were warming up for the parade.
Teenage children danced under the green and red snakes. Being led by one holding a stick with a large ball on the end to entice the snake to follow. Writhing up and down, swirling and weaving, the snakes danced on the lawn in the bright sun.
The air was filled with excitement with children running from here to there. Bright colors shining through the cold winter air easily caught me into the festivities. Families shared the afternoon in their cultural celebration. It is rare to be surrounded by those who are proud of their heritage and celebrate their patriotism.
In the Chinese zodiac, the snake holds the 6th position and symbolizes characteristics of intelligence, gracefulness and materialism. Contemplative and private, the Snake is not outwardly emotional. He can appear cunning and reticent and works very modestly in the business environment. The Snake will plot and scheme to make certain things turn out exactly as they want them to. They are not great communicators and can become quite possessive when they set their minds on achieving the interest of a partner.
Snakes have very few friends because thy are not outwardly emotional or open creatures. The friends they do make generally last a lifetime, even though peers may find it hard to relate to the Snake because he is withdrawn and secretive. Still, Snakes like social functions, in moderation, where they can gossip about the latest scandal or the newest news. If you stab a Snake in the back it is likely you will never be forgiven. In addition, you should prepare yourself for retaliation for the Snake always gets the last word.
Yes, I’m not to sure I would want to cross a snake’s path the wrong way. Although this little snake was more than happy to give me a smile and a pose.
It was a truly multicultural event, with participants and onlookers of all nationalities and ethnic background. Sounding off the rhythm of celebration, these gentleman reminded me of the Black Panthers.
Even goats and tigers participated in the festivities, with children in great admiration.
And be proud of me, as the purpose of this field trip was to learn how to be more like a photojournalist. While I wasn’t like the pros getting up close and personal with their photo subjects, I at last got bold enough and asked this gentleman if it was all right to take his photo. He was more than happy to oblige.
Of course, it’s not a real Bella Remy photo field trip if there isn’t a horse in the picture. This horse and carriage was carrying the Chinese Princesses to lead the parade.
It was such a wonderful day to help celebrate life, liberty and happiness. A day to remind me what life is all about.
A special thanks and shout out goes to Lynford Morton of Phototour DC that offered a photojournalism workshop at the festival today. I wouldn’t have even thought of visiting the festival and parade if he wasn’t for him.