An Explosive Chinese New Year in Philadelphia

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The 2014 Chinese New Year in Philadelphia started off with a bang as people crowded the streets of Chinatown in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to celebrate. Local businesses hung lettuce from their shops enticing the dragons to come and bring them good luck and good fortune.

man lettuce chinese new year philadelphia
Man Setting Lettuce in Front of Business – Philadelphia, PA

Now I was utterly confused on why one would feed a dragon lettuce but then a nice man enlightened me on the meaning of this tradition. Lettuce, or green vegetables in general, symbolize new growth and life. The dragons who symbolize luck “share the wealth” by throwing the leaves around for everyone to share.

dragons eating lettuce chinese new year philadelphia
Grabbing the Lettuce to Throw – Philadelphia, PA

The area was filled with sounds of drums pounding and cymbals ringing. Its believed that this intense combination of loud instruments along with the face of the dragons dancing can evict evil spirits.

drums pounding at chinese new year in philadelphia
Drums Pounding to Scare Evil Spirits – Philadelphia, PA

Following around the dragons was a little man in a pink mask. This is known as the Laughing Buddha. He teases the dragons with a banana leaf fan and makes them dance.

laughing buddha chinese new year philadelphia
Laughing Buddha and the Dancing Dragons – Philadelphia, PA

Firecrackers explode along the streets helping the dragons scare away evil spirits. If you are not careful, you catch some pieces of shrapnel hitting you. I managed to get one to the face and leg which resulted in small bruising. I would also advise wearing earbuds as the sound is more explosive than the firecrackers themselves.

firecrackers exploding chinese new year philadelphia
Firecrackers Exploding Scaring Evil Spirits – Philadelphia, PA

Perfect weather for a fun Chinese New Year parade. Chinese New Year is celebrated in February every year and there are celebrations all around the world. Check out the closest one near you!

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