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A Chinese New Year At The Joss House

By Mike Mangas
Vienna Montague, Producer
Published On: Mar 04 2013 08:14:22 PM CST
Updated On: Mar 04 2013 08:14:38 PM CST
WEAVERVILLE, Calif. -

People celebrated the year of the snake at the Joss House in Weaverville, and had a great time doing it.

There, they enjoyed  the annual "Lion Dance," a tradition to bring good fortune and ward off evil spirits in the coming year.

When the "lions" approach, people give them red packets with money inside. Before the dance is over, the lions are challenged to eat something green like lettuce and spit it out... this signifies abundance.

Firecrackers scared away a giant beast that appears at the New Year.

Paul Taslim of Redding said although there aren't many Chinese in Trinity County now,  it's important to remember their contributions. The ceremony is "to make [...] people aware of what the Chinese did in the past," Taslim said. "I'm proud of the whole community."

Randy Bashaw of Hayfork coordinates the lion dance.  "I think the thing they left was the diversity of the community."

Bashaw said he believes that it's important to keep the traditions alive.

" I think that's the most important part," Bashaw said. "I think we are a diverse world."

The Joss house is the oldest continuously used Taoist temple in California. It was built in 1874 by Chinese who came here during the gold rush to mine gold to send it back to China.

Finally, the lions danced through downtown Weaverville stopping at businesses to bring them good fortune in the coming year.

If you'd like to check out a lion dance,  the Weaverville Joss House Association also holds them on Fourth of July weekend.