Happy Lunar New Year
Cleveland Celebrates the Year of the Rooster
By Lexi Hotchkiss
Rise and shine, 2017! According to the traditional Chinese zodiac, this is the 4,715th year--the Year of the Rooster. And, it all kicks off during the Lunar New Year (aka the Chinese New Year) on Saturday, Jan. 28.
“The Lunar New Year is like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s all wrapped up in one. We have family reunions, parties, fireworks and gift giving,” says Lisa Wong, president of the Organization of Chinese Americans [OCA] of Greater Cleveland, which provides civic engagement and cultural education on behalf of Cleveland’s burgeoning Asian-Pacific population.
While the heart of this holiday focuses on family togetherness, the Lunar New Year is wrapped in centuries-old traditions. Wear red because it’s lucky. Set off firecrackers to scare evil spirits. Give children red envelopes filled with money for prosperity. Buy new clothes to encourage renewal.
Want to try out these unique ways to merrymake during the Lunar New Year? With a flourishing Asian community and a neighborhood rich with Asian-Pacific diversity (Asia Town), Cleveland is the place to be.
OCA Greater Cleveland compiled a list of Lunar New Year celebrations throughout the region. Check it out here.
Or, check out a lion dance performance, a staple of the Chinese New Year. Those who celebrate the Lunar New Year know this one activity is an absolute "must see." Take a gander at the dance of the lion.
Performed by two people in a large lion costume with an accompanied band of cymbals and drums, the dance is done to symbolically scare away evil spirits. The lion sports a giant papier mâché head and blinking eyes adorned with brightly colored trinkets, fur, glitter and mirrors.
“The lion dance is very special,” Wong says. “If you feed the lion money, it’s supposed to bring you good luck to the rest of the year.”
In Cleveland, the Kwan Family Lion Dance group performs the dance year-round. But, during the Lunar New Year, the group is stacked with tons of scheduled appearances--many of which help to completely book area restaurants. Check out the performance at Li Wah in Asiatown on Jan. 28 at 11 a.m..
Adding to the ever-expanding collection of Lunar New Year’s fetes is the Confucius Institute’s Lunar New Year Celebration.
The organization, which is devoted to helping educate CLE about China's arts, culture and language, hosts its grandest of shindigs at Cleveland State University on Feb. 4 from 4–5:30 p.m. (reception 5:30-6 p.m.).
This unique ticketed event is bursting with cultural activities like traditional music ensembles, martial arts demos and cultural dancing.