Chinese, Koreans, Vietnamese, some Japanese, Tibetans, Mongolians, and other ethnicities are all celebrating the Lunar New Year this week. While the traditions of each culture differ somewhat, there is one unifying aspect to all of them.
Lunar New Year is a time to spend with family.
Typically, family members will make pilgrimages — long and short — home for the New Year’s Eve, holding a family reunion of sorts. These gatherings can be a really wonderful experience for young and old alike. However, for some, they tend to be rather insular, held exclusively among blood relatives.
However, it doesn’t have to be like this. Family members don’t have to hole themselves up in their own houses.
And just as Asians who have immigrated to the United States have adopted American holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the Fourth of July, non-Asians can adopt Lunar New Year.
After all, what better way to promote cultural understanding than to share one’s cultural practices with others?
Something we like to stress is the uniqueness of the International District (ID). This area is the only one in the United States that can boast an Asian ethnic enclave that isn’t exclusively a Chinatown or a Little Saigon or a Nihonmachi or a Little Manila. Rather, we are an amalgam of all of such communities, and this is our greatest strength.
It is also not something that happens with dumb luck. Rather, there are community members who have worked, and worked tirelessly, for this community’s unity.
For the Lunar New Year, let’s all pitch in and collectively strive for togetherness. Let’s not just hoard this wonderful time of year just to ourselves. Rather, let’s share it with others, and let’s participate in it in as many ways as possible.
Drawing a blank on how you can accomplish this?
Well, you don’t have to wait for Jan. 23 to start the festivities. Leading up to the New Year is The Wing’s Lunar Opening Celebration on Saturday, Jan. 21. It’s a free event for families to do crafts and watch a lion dance. Also, there will be a Japanese New Year tea ceremony and tasting that is worth checking out, especially if you are not Japanese, as it’s a practice that differs significantly from Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese traditions.
After the New Year, come to the International District’s annual Lunar New Year Festival on Jan. 28, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It’s a packed event full of family-friendly activities like dragon and lion dances, informational and crafts booths, and a children’s costume parade contest (something we’re proud to say that we’ve got a hand in).
And make this an annual tradition for yourself. (end)