Across the country, communities are celebrating the start of a new year on the lunar calendar, the Year of the Sheep. Sometimes translated as the Year of the Ram or Year of the Goat, themed celebrations are planned in Alabama, California, Missouri, Texas, Washington, DC, and many other places around the US.
Lunar New Year is a multi-day annual festival which is celebrated in most parts of Asia, including China, South Korea, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam, among others. Immigration and cultural exchanges between the US and Asia have helped establish Lunar New Year as a regular fixture on the American cultural calendar over the years.
On February 7th, Colorado kicked off the celebrations of the Year of the Sheep with an all-day event in Colorado Springs. The main stage showcased the famous Chinese Shaolin Kung Fu, Lion Dances, and Taekwondo demonstrations. Ethnic instruments including Erhu also featured in the musical performance, and the attendees were treated to talks about Asian poetry, local cultural exhibitions, and traditional Chinese food. Colorado Springs is hosting another event on February 20th, the second day of the Lunar New Year, with a complete Chinese New Year dinner banquet.
Alabama, Missouri, and Texas all have festivities as well. Residents of Alabama celebrated on February 14th with the state’s annual festival in Birmingham’s Boutwell Auditorium. Children from the community performed dragon dances, drums, and traditional acrobatics. Missouri State University has week-long celebrations, ending on February 21st. It will host events including a Japanese tea ceremony and kimono workshop, Zodiac painting, paper cutting, and Chinese calligraphy. Austin, TX has an annual celebration in Austin Chinatown, with firecracker displays, magic demonstrations, and dragon dances by elementary school students.
Chinatown in Washington, DC will be decorated in red on February 22nd with a parade in the afternoon. The Smithsonian Institute is also organizing various family activities on February 21st, including craft activities and culinary demonstrations in the Freer and Sackler Galleries, which are dedicated to showcasing Asian art and culture.
The most anticipated event of the year is in San Francisco, which hosts the largest celebration of Lunar New Year outside of Asia. The festivals started on January 17th, featuring red envelope crafts, Chinese cultural presentations, flower fairs, and other events. On March 7th, it will host its annual parade, which was first put on in the 1860s, with floats, marching bands, acrobatics, and dragon and lion dances.
These represent just a handful of the many celebrations around the US, and highlight the rich appreciation of Asian culture in the country.
Doris Xu is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington and an undergraduate student at the University of Sydney.