Lunar New Year 101 →
Honoring family. Festive meals. Performance and tradition. It’s all part of Lunar New Year celebrations — which we’re thrilled to be taking part in this year to mark the beginning of the Year of the Rabbit. More details of the Seaport’s Lunar New Year festivities, presented in partnership with the New York Chinese Cultural Center, will be shared here, in the lead-up to the weekend of January 21 and 22 (the latter being the official start of the Lunar New Year).
To prepare for the celebrations, the New York Chinese Cultural Center’s executive director, Ying H. Yen, gives us the scoop on the significance of the holiday and its many traditions.
What is the Lunar New Year?
YY: It celebrates the start of a new year based on the lunar calendar, and this year the Lunar New Year is on January 22nd. It’s an important holiday in many cultures around the world, including Asian cultures.
How is Lunar New Year observed?
YY: There are many ways to celebrate Lunar New Year. For the Chinese, families gather for meals to eat symbolic foods like long noodle dishes—to symbolize longevity—and dumplings—that symbolize wealth. People go see performances like the lion dance and red ribbon dance. They hang red paper cuttings and lanterns with Chinese calligraphy characters on them that signify good luck and happiness. Some people wear new clothes on New Year’s Day, to signify a clean new start. Decorating your home with red paper cuttings, lanterns and flowers are also very popular as red is an auspicious color. [See more of Ying’s descriptions of specific traditions in the timeline further down on this page.]
How does NYCCC celebrate the New Year?
YY: The New York Chinese Cultural Center celebrates Lunar New Year with many communities throughout New York City. We bring performances and workshops to them that showcase Chinese folk dances and lion dance as well as Chinese calligraphy and lantern-making. Our Lunar New Year events are wonderful opportunities for people to celebrate and learn about Chinese culture, while also allowing us to preserve and share these traditional artforms.
At the Seaport, we’re doing the Traditional Lion Dance and Calligraphy workshops. What is the significance of these activities?
YY: The traditional lion dance is often performed to celebrate Lunar New Year and other festive occasions. The lions parade through crowds and visit storefronts to bring good luck to people and businesses, especially to those who feed them red envelopes.
In NYCCC’s calligraphy workshops, participants learn about the traditional Chinese writing system, where the flow of the lines blend language with art. Using an ink brush, NYCCC artists show and explain the relationship between ancient Chinese pictographs and their modern-day ideographs. The fish [a common motif in Chinese calligraphy and mythology] symbolizes wealth and prosperity.
Lunar New Year Traditions S+4
23rd–29th of the 12th lunar month
New Year’s Eve
30th of the 12th lunar month
Chinese New Year’s Day
Day 2–Day 7
Lantern Festival – the Lunar New Year period ends
You can experience some of these Lunar New Year traditions here at the Seaport on January 21 and 22, 2023. Stay tuned to this page for the complete schedule of events.
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.