Archive for September 2007

Sassoon, The Dragon and The Lantern Festival

September 12, 2007

sarah-3-lantern-final-in-stars.jpg“Grandma, where is your lantern”, asked Sarah. “Oh, don’t worry I have one, and so does Mommy.” Ashley ran into the room “hurry up, hurry up, we have to go so we can buy the light-up sticks before they are all gone.” “Okay Ashley, let’s go”, said their mother. Sarah, Ashley, their mother and grandmother walked out the door of their townhouse and through the gates of Burnside Estates.

Across the street was the post office, a pet store and a small convenience store. All the shops were closed now because it was such a special night, it was the Chinese Lantern Festival. They walked two blocks to the beach where a huge stretch of walkway with all kinds of things to buy could be found. Floats in all kinds of shapes and sizes, beach blankets, trinkets and tonight they were selling light-up things in all kinds of designs. 

 As they walked along the boardwalk a man carrying balloons and all kinds of light-up things walked by.  Their mother called him over and said, “Sarah, Ashley what would you like?” “I’ll take a necklace and light-up stick please”, said Ashley. “I want those light-up glasses and a light-up stick, please”, said Sarah. The beach was starting to fill up with people on blankets, chairs and children were running everywhere.

They loved the Lantern Festival which was held every September. Sarah and Ashley were from America but they lived with their family in Hong Kong for their father’s work. Repulse Beach was on the south side of Hong Kong Island and they loved it there. All the people in nearby villages would gather at the beach with their lanterns. The whole beach was lit up with candles and lanterns against the dark sky, it looked amazing. The beach was surrounded by mountains. In the distance you could see little lights twinkling on the mountainside, which were lanterns belonging to people who lived there.

They walked towards the shop that sold lanterns.  Hundreds of lanterns hung from the ceiling of the lantern shop. Master craftsman made multicolored paper lanterns that looked just like butterflies, dragons, birds, dragonflies, and many other animals. There were teddy bear lanterns, and cat lanterns, round lanterns and tall lanterns. There were light-up sticks that everyone carried, and light-up headbands, eyeglasses and necklaces for the children. “Look, look they have lanterns like Bambi” Sarah shouted, as she picked out the lantern in the shape of a deer. “I want the fish lantern”, said Ashley as they selected their favorite kind. While their mother paid for them, the shopkeeper handed them candles to use for their lanterns. Now they all had lanterns and candles to light for later when the sky grew dark.

In China the dragon is very sacred, very lucky and very welcome. The legend was that a dragon named Sassoon lived in Repulse Bay.  He lived across the street from the beach, on top of the mountains behind a huge apartment building. The apartment building was designed with a square hole right in the middle of the building so that Sassoon could still see the ocean. It is very unlucky when a dragon cannot see the ocean. The story was that Sassoon hated the Lantern festival because he liked to sleep at night and all the lights kept him up every year. No one knew if this story was true, because only a few people had ever actually seen Sassoon. But the building was proof that he must have existed at one time.

“Let’s walk the whole length of the beach with our lanterns lit up and see all the different kinds that people have”, said their mother. “And then we can set up our blanket at the other end of the beach and have a bite to eat.” Their mother was carrying a basket filled with a picnic dinner. The night was beautiful, the dark sky against a large full moon twinkled against the waves crashing to shore. The sand was cool and the weather was very warm, but with a cool ocean breeze. Many families had set up little areas with chairs and some had even built sand castles. People had small candles in the sand against their sand castles. They had them in all kinds of shapes, some were hearts, some were circles and some were sitting on bits of the sand castles. Children were tossing the light-up sticks, and because it was dark from a distance you thought that sticks were flying around. Beautiful lanterns were sitting on each blanket. “Oooooooooh, did you see that one Sarah”, said Grandma. “Look over there”, said their mother, “Have you ever seen so many lanterns in your entire life?” They walked and walked and when they were almost to the other side a breeze started.

Within moments huge gusts of wind started to blow from all different directions. The bright full moon was covered by dark clouds that were blowing past the face of the moon. Sarah grabbed onto her lantern and the candle blew out. Ashley said “look, look everyone’s lanterns are being blown away.” With that a huge gust got hold of her lantern and it started to be whisked down the beach. They all ran and her mom caught it just in time before it went into the sea. They turned and the rain started to come down in buckets. The light of the lanterns went out from one end of the beach to where they were standing. People scattered to pick up blankets, hold onto their children and salvage their dinner picnic baskets.

Sarah looked at the mountain, passed the beach, passed the large apartment building and saw something very large moving on the other side of the hole in the building. She gasped “It’s Sassoon, It’s Sassoon.” He was large and red and he had little wings but a very big head. He was smiling. She smiled too, because she knew that he had done this, he had blown all the lanterns out and probably provoked a storm cloud. Sarah stood there and said “Look it’s Sassoon!” They all stopped and looked in the direction that she was pointing. “Oh my, it is Sarah, I think that you are right”, said the Grandmother. Ashley laughed at the mischief that he had caused, she was quite mischievous herself. “What a crazy dragon”, said Ashley.

Their mother looked inside her large bag and pulled out two tiny packages that held raincoats for each one of the children. Something that came in handy in Hong Kong, you never knew when a storm might appear. Everyone was running, and the rain started to come down harder and harder. They could see Sassoon waddling back to his home in the mountain tops. He had accomplished what he set out to do, put all the lights out before he went to bed.

As they all reached the curb, their grandmother hailed a taxi cab. “Wow, Grandma how did you do that”, said Ashley. She knew that everyone else wanted to hail a taxi and they had been very lucky indeed. Sarah thought that the dragon Sassoon had brought them luck because they had actually seen him. They all went home very wet, very entertained and happy that they had gotten to see the lanterns all lit up, before Sassoon had blown them out. Sarah and Ashley would never forget the Lantern Festival and especially Sassoon the dragon.

 The End