Feature: Chinatown in U.S. city of San Francisco kicks off Chinese New Year with "Dragon Eye-Dotting" ceremony

Source: Xinhua| 2018-02-17 18:24:02|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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Mark Farrell, acting mayor of San Francisco, dots the eye of a dragon during the gold dragon parade celebrating Chinese Spring Festival in San Francisco, the United States, Feb. 16, 2018. (Xinhua/Wu Xiaoling)

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) -- Mayor Mark Farrell and former Mayor Willie Brown of San Francisco on the U.S. west coast Friday kicked off the Chinese Lunar New Year of the Dog with a "Dragon Eye-Dotting" ceremony in the city's famous Chinatown.

While a crowd of thousands watched excitedly, the two mayors used two brush pens to dot each of the irises of the two eyes of an 87-meter-long huge dragon with red paint, officially ushering in the lunar New Year of the Dog, which fell on Feb. 16.

According to traditional Chinese culture, a dragon cannot be seen by the public until its eyes have been dotted, which suggests that the spirit of the dragon is being brought down from heaven into the dragon dance apparatus.

Such a ceremony is usually held to mark major events in a year, like the start of a Lunar New Year.

Before the "Eye-Dotting" ceremony began, Farrell extended his greetings to the audience in Cantonese amid a lavish and festive atmosphere, wishing them a prosperous new year.

"We are about to start the Year of the Dog here in San Francisco, and it is such a great time to be together to celebrate everything that we do in our Chinese culture here in San Francisco, also here in Chinatown," Farrell said.

He said he looked forward to dotting the irises of the dragon here to kick off the Chinese New Year.

"This is a great time of the year for San Francisco. It's really an honor to be here as your mayor and I look forward to celebrating all of these events together during the Lunar New Year," he said.

Chinese Consul General in San Francisco Luo Linquan said a good momentum has been maintained in China-U.S. relations in the past year and that bilateral relations have been making continued progress.

The year 2018 will surely bring about good opportunities of development for both China and the United States, Luo told the audience.

After the eye-dotting ceremony, the longest dragon ever made in the Chinese community in the city in recent years, which took more than six months to be completed, raised its huge head to begin dancing to the roaring sound of drum beats, accompanied by nine colorfully decorated lions jumping up and down cheerfully.

The dancing dragon, which swiveled its body and tail, was held by 40 people, including about 30 middle school children studying in downtown San Francisco.

One of the performers, an 11th grader who identified himself as Jeffrey Chang, said he was happy to be part of the performance.

As a member of the dragon boat team in the Galileo Academy of Science and Technology, Jeffrey said he was born in America and learned many things about China from his parents.

"I have been to China for several times, and the last time I went to China was two years ago," he said, adding that "China is very large and I'm pretty much impressed."

The Chinatown celebrations also featured six school children performing and dancing on 1.6-meter-high stilts, and a group of kindergarten kids dressed up as dogs, the good-luck mascot of the Lunar New Year.

The children sang the song "Happy New Year" and another popular Chinese song "I love you, China" to warm up the festive atmosphere ahead of the "Eye-Dotting" ceremony.

Raymond Johnson, 65, a resident of Tacoma, a port city in Washington state on the West Pacific coast, said it is amazing to watch the celebrations of the Chinese Lunar New Year of the Dog, because he himself was born in the Year of the Dog.

He said he had driven for about 13 hours all the way from Seattle,Washington state to San Francisco yesterday to attend Saturday's event.

"China has a culture of thousands of years old, and we in America have a much shorter history," he said. "If we open our eyes further, we can learn a lot from China."

"I'm really proud and happy to be part of today's celebrations," Johnson said.

"I hope I can come here again for another Year of the Dog in 12 years," he said. "I will be 77 years old by that time, but I'm still young." 

KEY WORDS: ceremony