Our first day in Melbourne was not only Valentine’s Day but also the New Chinese Year of the Tiger, so we made our way up to the Chinatown district of the city to join in the celebrations. There were thousands of people milling about around Little Bourke Street, in particular, and of course, because it is a lucky Chinese colour…I wore a bright red top!
The friendly atmosphere was absolutely electric, especially near to the dancing lions, and the noise from the many firecrackers so deafening that we were forced to firmly jam our fingers in our ears to protect them! The lions often danced outside a restaurant, and there was a ritual performed whereby the animal was offered some food to eat (mostly cabbage or lettuce) in order to bring good spirits into the business. We did see a few lions actually climb the stairs and go inside a restaurant, followed by the beating band behind….so I should imagine that there was chaos inside! At one place, just as one lion was coming out of a restaurant, another was rounding the corner from another direction and the two lions performed an elaborate dance around one another, jostling for position. I can’t tell you how that ended as we walked quite far away and could still hear the two bands beating their music frenzy, much to the delight of the surging crowd.
Away from the main street, there were numerous colourful stalls selling all manner of Chinese items from food all the way to lucky charms. Of course, later in the day we returned to Chinatown for dinner to soak in as much of the atmosphere as we could. It was a fantastic celebration to be part of.