Tag Archives: parade

The Year of the Water Snake 2013 – Chinese New Year in Paris

17 Feb

Nian beasts and the red lanterns and drums used to scare them away

Whereas our own New Year’s Celebrations have long passed, the Chinese New Year Celebrations are in full swing and the year of the Water Snake has just begun.

Paris’ “Chinatown” is the largest one in Europe and there are New Year Festivities taking place in the 3rd, 11th and 13th arrondissement, the ones in the 13th offering the biggest parade to visitors, find its route and the Métro stations (Place d’Italie, Porte d’Ivry…) here.

The Dragons are awake

The dragon in the 13th will open its eyes at 1:00 pm for the  New Year’s Parade on Sunday, February 17, 2013, and start dancing down the streets followed by his fellow dragon friends, chasing their mythic pearl. I am always amazed on how realistic its movements look, fluttering through the air, twirling around, it definitely looks like a real being.

Colorful embroidered costumesWhat at first appears to be  a furrier, stumpier version of the dragons are in fact no dragons, but the Nian. The Nian was said to be a cruel monster, living under the sea or in the mountains. Every year for the Spring festivities / Chinese New Year it would appear and chase people because, unfortunately, his favorite dish was humans. The Nian’s terrible reign didn’t last forever though. A wise monk came up with the idea to turn the tables on the monster the next time it appeared, fighting it by lighting fireworks and firecrackers and beating empty bowls, plates and gongs, making an awful noise and frightening the beast.

Up!

The Nian tried to flee, but wherever it went it was greeted with more noise, the people often wearing red, as this color scared the Nian even more. According to some of the legends, the Nian was eventually killed, according to others it never dared returning to the village ever again and peace was restored.

The red lanterns you see hanging everywhere during the Chinese New Year’s week and the firecrackers used still date back to these ancient stories and shall forever bar the Nian from doing harm again.

Crunch Bob

The acrylic Nians you spot during our modern parades don’t really scare us anymore, but don’t forget what they stand for and root for the right team, the Nians are the baddies, the Dragons will bring you luck.

More of my pictures from previous years' Chinese New Year celebrations and this year's poster

The Chinese New Year Celebrations and the colorful costumes and traditional rites bring color and fun to the still cold and harsh Winter days, still, two things you should consider in order for you to have a great time:

1)   There will be many, MANY people, as you see in the pictures below, if you’re a woman you’re lucky, wear heels, you’ll have a much better view. And if you don’t like huge crowds and overflowing streets, don’t go, really, it’s madness

2)   Authenticity. Over the past years, the amount of advertising has risen drastically, almost everything is endorsed by anything, and even many of the lanterns and balloons are branded (phone companies, airlines…), it just clashes with the ancient traditions and kind of gnaws on its ceremoniousness.

Gold Proc p

A happy Chinese New Year to you all! After the turbulent Year of the Dragon, Chinese astrologists expect the Year of the Water Snake to be a calmer and luckier year. Now that sounds great, let’s cross our fingers.

Did I mention the huge crowd of people..?