BY JAMES FARRELL
Last weekend, Queens joined the rest of the world in ushering in the Lunar New Year, kicking off 15 days of festivities and celebrations.
The Lunar New Year is widely considered to be one of the most important festivals in Chinese culture and in a number of other communities around the world. It represents the start of the new year, according to the Chinese lunisolar calendar, which uses astronomical events to mark the passage of time and figures into Chinese traditions and folklore. The Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, begins on the first new moon between Jan. 21 and Feb. 20. It lasts for 15 days, ending with an event known as the Lantern Festival, which this year, falls on Feb. 11.
This year, 2017 marks the Year of the Rooster. Each new year is linked to one of 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac. People born in the Year of the Rooster are considered to be punctual and honest. The Lunar New Year will bring a wide array of parades, performances and celebrations.
In Queens, a number of elected officials are marking the festivities—both with events and legislation.
U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing), who’s district in Flushing has a vibrant Asian-American community, introduced a resolution calling on the House of Representatives to officially recognize Lunar New Year.
“The popularity of Lunar New Year continues to grow in New York and throughout the country and it’s time for Congress to acknowledge and appreciate this special and important holiday that celebrates the customs and culture of Asian Americans,” she said.
State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) followed suit, passing a similar resolution to officially recognize the Lunar New Year in the state Senate.
“Being born in the Year of the Rooster is a very important sign of intelligence, honesty, ambition and we hope that this will symbolize 2017,” she said.
Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) is gathering the Flushing community in celebration this weekend, alongside several community organizations, for a parade on Feb. 4. The parade begins at 11 a.m. and will start at the corner of Union Street and 39th Avenue, march toward Queens Crossing and be immediately followed by an indoor celebration. It will be the second Lunar New Year parade to take over the streets of Flushing—another was held this past weekend, on Jan. 28, and featured marches in traditional clothing and performances.
“The Lunar New Year is such an important holiday throughout our community, when millions of people travel across the world by road, plane and train to reunite with their loved ones,” Koo said. “This is a time for our families to come together, spend meaningful time with one another, and reflect on their good fortunes.”
Flushing Town Hall, the historic arts and culture center that hosted last week’s parade, will hold a number of cultural performances and exhibitions to commemorate the festivities. An exhibition known as “Pauline Benton and the Red Gate,” which will feature a selection of rare Chinese shadow figures, opens on Feb. 3. Two days later, the venue will host a Rooster Shadow Puppet Workshop and, on Feb. 17, there will be a Lunar New Year Shadow Puppet Slam. Lastly, the Korean Traditional Marching band will perform on Feb. 19. All tickets are available at www.flushingtownhall.org.
The Queens Zoo will join the fun with activities geared toward Lunar New Year on Feb. 4 and 5. Activities will include a Lunar New Year Zodiac Scavenger Hunt at 11 a.m., crafts at 11 a.m., calligraphy lessons at 1 p.m. and a special Year of the Rooster puppet show for all ages performed by the Chinese Theatre Works at 1:20, 2:20 and 3:20 p.m. All events will take place on both days.
New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer will also host a Lunar New Year Celebration at Flushing Town Hall at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 9. The event will honor a number of members in the community, including Katherine Kim, executive director of the YWCA Queens, and newly elected Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou.
Reach James Farrell at (718) 357-7400 x 127, firstname.lastname@example.org or @farrellj329.