Year of the Monkey in Chinatown / 14ymedio

Festivities for the Lunar New Year in Havana’s Chinatown. (14ymedio)
Festivities for the Lunar New Year in Havana’s Chinatown. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 8 February 2016 — Colorful costumes, dancing and lots of rain characterized Sunday in Havana’s Chinatown with the celebrations for the arrival of the Lunar New Year this February 8. Despite the inclement weather, the festivities lasted until late at night and included dances typical of China and martial arts demonstrations.

The beginning of the Year of the Monkey was celebrated by the residents of Chinatown, descendants of the Chinese who lived around Zanja and Dragones Streets, as well as tourists. Some private businesses decorated their interiors with references to the restless animal, the ninth of the twelve that make up the Chinese horoscope, which won’t repeat until 2028.

There is no lack of sellers taking advantage of the holiday to sell stuffed or plastic monkeys as well as culinary offerings tied to the occasion. The main street in the neighborhood was a hotbed of the curious and diners who were attracted by the spectacle and the chances of lower food prices.

The activities had begun 15 days before the advent of the so-called Spring Festival and were organized by the Confucius Institute, the Cuban School of Wushu, the House of Art and Chinese Traditions and the Chung Wah Casino Federation, the principal Chinese community center in Cuba. Some places that sell food also had their own celebrations.

The Sunday program began with a craft fair on Saint Nicholas Boulevard and various traditional games. For kids there was a show of skills in calligraphy and paper cutting, typical of this ancient culture. Roberto Vargas Lee, director of the Cuban School of Wushu, delivered opening remarks and thanked the parents who had brought their children in spite of the rain.

Traditional dragon and peacock dances were the most anticipated because of their colorfulness and the skill of the dancers, although many participants agreed on the weakness of the celebration, in which limited resources and organizational problems marred the important date.