Thursday marks the start of the Chinese New Year, the longest and most important holiday in the Chinese calendar.
For the start of this event, the world’s largest annual human migration is now well underway as 2.8 billion trips are made across China in what is known as chun yun, when students, migrant workers and office employees living away from home will make the journey back to celebrate with their families. For younger generations, the holiday has evolved from an opportunity to renew family ties to a chance for relaxation from work.
In China, Chinese New Year, is also known as the Spring Festival, the literal translation of the modern Chinese name. It is the longest national holiday in China, spanning a total of fifteen days. This year’s symbol, yang, can be translated to either sheep or goat.
Because the Chinese calendar is lunisolar, the Chinese New Year is often referred to as the “Lunar New Year“.
Wish people a happy new year by saying “Xin Nian Kuai Le” in Mandarin or “San Nin Faai Lok” in Cantonese.
What’s Happening – Dinners, parades, dragon dances, reunions and gift exchanges are all part of Chinese New Year celebrations. Here are some local events in the Maryland / DC area:
Rockville‘s Lunar New Year Celebration
February 28, 2015, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre at Rockville Civic Center Park, 603 Edmonston Drive, Rockville, MD. The event will feature samples of Asian cuisine and a variety of multigenerational performances and exhibitors including several dance groups. Also performing will be Flowers of Beijing Opera, the boys Korean drum group from Spark M. Matsunaga Elementary School in Germantown and the Filipino-American Community of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Gaithersburg.
Chinese New Year at Montgomery County Public Libraries
Thirteen branches of the public libraries welcome the new year with a variety of programs. Music, dance and special performances feature the sights, sounds and cultures of China, Korea and Vietnam. Programs include introduction to customs behind the Lunar New Year, traditional dances, hands-on art activities, puppet shows, healing and martial arts demonstrations including tai-chi and kung fu, calligraphy, crafts, customs, Chinese yo-yo, workshops and children’s activities, and the traditional Chinese lion dance. For specific schedules, visit the Montgomery County Public Libraries website
Gaithersburg Chinese New Year Events
February 16-March 1, 2015. Lakeforest Mall, 701 Russell Avenue, Gaithersburg, Maryland. View beautiful Chinese New Year decorations and exhibits throughout the mall. Live entertainment (weekends, noon-5:00 p.m.) includes traditional lion and dragon dances, folk dances and martial arts demonstrations. Demonstrations and workshops include flower/bonsai arrangement, arts and crafts, painting and games.
Maryland Live! Casino Lunar New Year Festival – New this Year!
February 20, 2015, 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Maryland Live! Casino, 7002 Arundel Mills Circle, Hanover, MD. Festivities will begin with a “Cai Qing” Ceremony, a customary and very visual ceremony featuring the “picking of the greens” by the “Lion” to bless the New Year and bring prosperity. Following the ceremony, Maryland Live! Casino President & GM Robert Norton will lead the Lion Dancers in a parade across the casino floor, finishing at Rams Head Center Stage. Admission is free, but attendees must be Live! Rewards Card members. The festival will include traditional musical and dance performances, Dragon’s Beard Candy (Chinese cotton candy) made on-site; Bian Lian “Changing Face” performance, and more. A special featured menu will be available February 19 – March 5, 2015 in LUK FU, Maryland Live!’s Asian restaurant.
Washington, DC Area:
Chinese New Year Parade and Festival in Washington, DC
February 22, 2015, 2-5 p.m. Chinatown – on H Street, NW, between 6th and 7th Streets. Each year a parade is held in Chinatown to celebrate the Chinese New Year. The event features the traditional Chinese Dragon Dance, Kung Fu demonstrations and live musical entertainment. The firecracker will be lit at 3:45 p.m. A good place to view the parade is along 7th St. The closest Metro station is Gallery Place/Chinatown
Lunar New Year Family Day in Washington, DC
Celebrate the Lunar New Year with a day full of festivities hosted by the Freer|Sackler and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. Explore the many countries in Asia that celebrate the holiday through family-friendly tours, hands-on activities, and a cooking demonstration. Sat Feb 21, 2015 from 11:00 am – 4:00 pm