Monday, February 08, 2010

Chinese New Year & the story of the Lion

Well, its that time of the year again, Chinese New Year.

We typically catch a train into the city and watch the procession through China town and into the main city street.

Tens of thousands of people gather to watch what I believe is a festival that is celebrated in more places and by more people than even Christmas. This says a lot about the influence of the Chinese globally.  

I always enjoy the sounds of the drums, the processions of the fabled dragons, and the myths behind the fearsome Lion.

Typically, the Lion is sent to visit all the Chinese restaurants in China town, to bring them good luck. This at first sounds quite strange given the fear that the Lion is supposed to instill in all who see him.

I think however the Lion represents a deep cultural pillar within the Chinese psyche, probably as a remnant of Confusionism, which places a lot of emphasis in the Yin and Yang of life.

In fact and as it was once explained to me, the Lion represents the very nature of life, which includes accepting the bad as well as the good.

The story goes something like this:

"Long long ago, a fearsome Lion used to terrorise a small village in China, a village that otherwise had plenty of rainfall and very healthy crops every year.

One day however the villagers got tired of the threats that the Lion imposed on their lives, and so they decided to get together and scare the Lion away with the sound of loud drums.

They did just this, and the Lion left from the proximity of the village.

However from the moment the Lion left, the village ceased getting any rainfall, and their crops failed every year.

In desperation, the villagers decided to do what they could to bring the Lion back, and offered gifts of food and meat in order to entice him back. Once the Lion came back, the rains began to fall again.

As a result, the villagers came to accept that for the good to come, some bad had to be accepted, and in many ways this goes to the heart of Chinese values."

I would like to think that my inter-cultural, inter racial marriage, in many regards, follows the same pattern of thinking. Although some issues are undoubtedly there, in order for us to enjoy the good, we have to also accept the not so good. It is as much a theme for marriage as it is for life.

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