It seems to creep up on me every year. I get busy with all the things that come after the calendar switches to a new year, and then I turn around and remember it is time to welcome in a new year on the Chinese calendar. This year though, I had reminders here and there as I noticed a significant increase of the number of dragons I was seeing. Still I didn’t realize it was upon us til I was talking with my friend KD this weekend.
If your only familiarity with the Chinese zodiac is the paper placemats used in some Chinese restaurants, you really should take time to read up a bit — or even better, find a way to join it. The festival usually goes on for two weeks after the New Year starts tomorrow (January 23) as the clock ticks midnight.I’ve been lucky enough not only to participate in a New York Chinatown celebration of New Years, but also to have shared it with friends who have Chinese ancestry or who have lived in places with large Chinese populations.And as one friend in Texas loves to point out…. yes, I mean Tony St. James on KFLP radio…. I even dressed as part of a Chinese dragon one year for Halloween! (Hope you enjoy this photo of the group as well as the zoom of my Chinese dragoness self.)
How I Got Involved
When I lived in New York, a friend was looking through the class schedule for weekend courses, etc and stumbled on a weekender on Chinese New Year. The “class” met in Chinatown. It was a full day affair. We had people explain a lot about the Chinese zodiac (I’m a snake by the way) as well as a number of the other traditions. The leaders also provided us a lot of insight into some of the things that make Chinese culture a little bit different more broadly.
We walked around the neighborhood and learned about some of the traditions, seeing red packets up for sale everywhere and foods being prepared. I’m not sure I can decide the highlight of the day though…. seeing an incredible parade with an enormous dragon dancing around the street as firecrackers went off all around us was exhilirating! But the multi-course dinner that didn’t seem to stop was incredible too! We were able to eat all the special foods that you should eat new year’s — dumplings, fish, noodles and more!
Year of the Dragon
The year of the dragon is one of the years that always gets attention globally as it is a legendary animal with great strength. The year is said to be one of great luck and taking the calendar to heart, it is expected to be one in which many Chinese families will have children.
So, today is Chinese New Year’s Eve…. What’s your plan to celebrate?
- Chinese New Year 2012 – Year of the Water Dragon (bonniecehovet.wordpress.com)
- Chinese New Year Traditions and the Year of the Dragon (leggotunglei808.wordpress.com)
- Enter the Year of the Dragon: Chinese New Year celebrations begin in Manchester (menmedia.co.uk)
- Chinese New Year – 4710 (helensthatsenglish.wordpress.com)