Thousands celebrate Year of the Pig in NYC

Updated: 2007-02-19 09:19

NEW YORK - Thousands of people went hog wild in the streets of Chinatown in celebration of the Lunar New Year, firing off a barrage of confetti, dancing in traditional lion costumes and devouring countless dumplings.

Sunday marked the beginning of the Year of the Golden Pig.

There are 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac, which runs in a 12-year cycle. People born in pig years are supposed to be lucky, polite, honest, hardworking and loyal, according to Chinese astrology. Their lives are also prosperous, encouraging many Chinese to have babies in the coveted year.

Everywhere in the Chinatown neighborhood in downtown Manhattan, people reveled in the festivities, watching the lion and dragon dances. A nighttime fireworks show was scheduled.

The sounds of cymbals and heavy drums punctuated the air as did the smells of delicious dishes from the many restaurants. So did the noisemakers used to ward off evil spirits. At almost every step, the staccato of snap, snap, snap rang out.

Julia Hoo, who lives in another neighborhood of Manhattan, said she goes to Chinatown for every new year.

"I don't miss this," she said. "It's very important. It's my heritage."

The performers were dressed in ornate costumes, and they popped in and out of businesses, where shop owners gave them lucky money. The Chinese, who are admittedly superstitious, think this symbolic act is necessary to ensure a good year.

"I believe it," said Daphne Lau, who works in a Chinatown candy shop.

Her store was selling plenty of new year kitsch, including porcine statuettes and lucky trinkets filled with chocolate.

Mike Sans was eating pork dumplings at a savory little place on a Chinatown side street. He is not Chinese, but he had an idea of what the pig year is about.

"It's my understanding there are going to be a lot of babies born in China," he said. "I think it has something to do with prosperity."

But he admitted that the celebration was just another excuse to visit Chinatown to enjoy its tasty food. "Absolutely. It's part of the whole experience."

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