Current small Chinatown lion, iamge author's own
Happy Chinese New Year to all our readers! Today is the first day of the Year of the Ox, so if you are know anyone who is going to be born between now and this time next year, or will be turning 12, 24, 36, 48 or any other multiple of 12, then they are an ox and this is their year. Be nice and resist cracking bovine jokes.
The big celebrations in Chinatown and Trafalgar Square won't take place until next Sunday but today, families and individuals will be observing the traditions and rituals of the New Year celebrations. Burning incense, making offerings of tea, rice, sweet foods (to keep opinion of you sweet in the other world), setting off firecrackers (to scare away any lingering bad spirits) and of course, the lucky red envelopes full of money that are the most highly anticipated part of the day. There's a lot to look forward to...
... including a brand new addition to Chinatown, coming soon, in a manner reminscent of Aslan himself.
Courtesy of Chinatown Art Space and Shaftesbury PLC, The Lion is a collaborative installation by Taiwanese artist Hsiao-Chi Tsai and Japanese Kimiya Yoshikawa. Together they won the £20,000 commission for the brightly coloured Perspex and steel sculpture which draws on the traditional Chinese symbol of guardianship and will greet people as they enter Chinatown on the corner of Wardour Street and Shaftesbury Avenue. You won't miss it, as we've been told it will stand at about 3 metres tall and will look like nothing else in Chinatown.
The Lion will be part of Chinatown's landscape for the next ten years and will be unveiled in March 2009.
Gung hei fat choi!
For more information on Chinese New Year in London, go to the China in London website