Kung Hee Fat Choy

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Thuy Crawford, garbed in her traditional Vietnamese ao dai, gets brave by sitting with the pair of resting Chinese lions Friday during the Chinese New Year celebration at The Shops at Kukuiula in Poipu.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Thuy Crawford, garbed in her traditional Vietnamese ao dai, reacts after the Chinese lions accept her lai see offering Friday during the Chinese New Year celebration at The Shops at Kukuiula in Poipu.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    A pair of Chinese lions from Tsunami Taiko thrill hundreds of people who gathered to celebrate the Chinese New Year Friday evening at The Shops at Kukuiula.

POIPU — Thuy Crawford was garbed in her traditional ao dai gown Friday night to help welcome the New Year.

The Chinese New Year coincides with the Vietnamese New Year, one of the most important celebrations in Vietnamese culture, said her husband who watched with their dog in hand. The Vietnamese lunar new year is the “Feast of the First Morning of the First Day,” a shortened version of Tet Nguyen Dan, and is very big in their country, where most businesses close for at least three days.

The Crawfords were among the throng of hundreds of people who welcomed the Chinese New Year with the popping of firecrackers that welcomed the Chinese lions belonging to the Tsunami Taiko ensemble led by Joanne Parongao.

“We never had Chinese lions,” said Stacie Chiba Miguel, the senior property manager for The Shops at Kukuiula. “Whenever we needed the lions, we would have to bring them in from Honolulu at great expense. Now, we have the Tsunami Taiko lions, and we are lucky they were available to celebrate the Chinese New Year.”

The lion dance is a traditional part of the Chinese New Year because the lion is an auspicious animal. The lion dance is performed for good luck during the Spring Festival, another term for the Chinese New Year.

During the dance that spanned the entire shopping complex, spectators offered lai see, or monetary good luck offerings, in hopes of a prosperous new year ahead.

“We had a limited number of the traditional red envelopes,” Chiba Miguel said. “A lot of them were distributed to the shops so they could offer lai see, but we have them for the shoppers, too.”

Red is a lucky color in China. The lai see tradition stems from parents giving their children red envelopes after a reunion dinner, wishing them health, growth and good studies for the coming year.

Parongao said the Tsunami Taiko lions will also appear today during the Chinese New Year celebration that starts at 1 p.m. in the mall’s exhibition area. The lions will parade through the entire mall, starting at the Macy’s end and finishing at the exhibition area. There, Jan Woo will coordinate a doggie fashion show in honor of this year being the Year of the Dog, the 11th sign in the Chinese zodiac.

The lions are also scheduled to appear during the Waimea Town Celebration hosted by the West Kauai Business and Professional Association.

The Chinese New Year is usually celebrated for 16 days, culminating with the Lantern Festival which involves lighting lanterns, eating sweet dumplings, and more fireworks. This year’s Chinese New Year started on Jan. 24, Day 8 of Month 12, and will carry through March 2, according to the China Highlights website.

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