A Lunar New Year Guide
Feasting. Dancing. A time to honor ancestors and tradition. The Lunar New Year is celebrated by East and Southeast Asian communities throughout the world, including here in New York City. The holiday is also known as the Spring Festival and kicks off with the first full moon of the lunar calendar.
On this year’s Gregorian calendar, the celebration begins on February 1st. Each year, the Lunar calendar is represented by one of 12 animals—the new year ahead is the Year of the Tiger. To mark the occasion, the Seaport has partnered with Think!Chinatown and the New York Chinese Cultural Center to bring a series of Lunar New Year celebrations to the neighborhood. The full schedule is available here.
Below, Ying H. Yen, the executive director of the New York Chinese Cultural Center shares some background on a few highlights from the lineup.
“At the heart of Lunar New Year celebrations is the celebration of a new year with family and friends through the enjoyment of different cultural traditions and experiences,” says Yen. “Lunar new year celebrations are wonderful opportunities for people to celebrate, learn and preserve different cultural traditions.”
On Saturday, February 5th, the Seaport’s Lunar New Year celebrations run from 1–4pm, with most of the action at The Corner, 25 Fulton Street. There, guests can enjoy a vinyl dance party and art demonstration, and the chance to shop for Lunar New Year decorations and cultural items. The day will also showcase a wearable interpretation of the traditional dancing lantern created by Chinese-American illustrator Rose Wong for Think!Chinatown. Each piece of fabric that makes up the wearable lantern features illustrations in black ink showcasing Chinatown’s resilience during the challenging times that began with the pandemic.
“Red lanterns are hung up to ward off evil and bring in good luck,” says Yen of the new year tradition. “They are also used to celebrate the Lantern Festival, which is a holiday at the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations.”
Wong’s “We The Lantern” will be hung as a decorative piece when not worn for the event. It symbolizes the collective power of a community to make its way through dark times to a brighter future.
On Sunday, February 6, the Lunar New Year events continue. A Traditional Lion Dance will take place at 1:30pm, starting at the corner of Fulton and Water Streets. Come on down and follow the drums, gongs, and lion dancers through the Seaport as they parade down to the Heineken Riverdeck on Pier 17.
“The traditional lion dance is a popular performance to celebrate Lunar New Year and other festive occasions,” says Yen. “The lions bring good luck to people and businesses, especially to those that feed them red envelopes.”
Also on Sunday afternoon is a series of Calligraphy Workshops. “Using an ink brush, artists show and explain the relationship between ancient Chinese pictographs and their modern-day ideograph,” says Yen. “In our calligraphy workshops, participants learn about the traditional Chinese writing system where the flow of the lines blend language with art.”
Participants will be guided by experts as they write simple characters in celebration of the Lunar New Year and can take home the writings they create in the workshop. Three free classes will take place at The Corner*, starting at 2pm, 3pm, and 4pm. RSVP is required in advance.
The New York Chinese Cultural Center’s mission is to deepen the understanding and appreciation of Chinese culture in the global and local communities. Lunar New Year events across the city are just one example of the center’s ongoing work. To learn about more cultural and educational programming, and to see upcoming events, visit nychineseculturalcenter.org.
*Events are indoors & take place rain or shine.
Indoor events are covered by the Key to NYC policy, requiring identification and proof that attendees 5 years of age and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Anyone 12 years of age and older must provide proof that they have received two vaccine doses (except for those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine).
For proof of vaccination, you can use a CDC Vaccination Card (digital photo or photocopy of this card is also acceptable), NYC Vaccination Record (digital photo or photocopy of this card is also acceptable), NYC Covid Safe app, CLEAR Health Pass, or Excelsior Pass/Excelsior Pass Plus.
For more information, please visit nyc.gov/keytoNYC.