Woodstock Library 'Lunar New Year' celebrates Chinese traditions
Instead of a New Year's celebration that only lasts just one evening and one day, the Chinese Lunar New Year lasts two weeks. And, in Portland, during each Lunar New Year, celebrations usually take place on different days during those two weeks – and, in all parts of the city.
Sunday, February 2nd, marked this year's Woodstock Branch Library's celebration of the Lunar New Year, highlighted by multigenerational performances. Children and elders sang in Mandarin; two young people performed the White Lotus Lion Dance to the rhythms of loud cymbals and a bass drum. Then there was a ten-minute demonstration by Tai Chi instructor Mr. Li; followed by refreshments of Hawaiian donuts and mandarin oranges laid out on a table.
The twelve-year-old son of Chinese Librarian Assistant Sean Khoo played the violin to accompany four small children singing, as part of the Woodstock Library Storytime Singing Group. Chinese Regional Librarian Toan Lam-Sullivan's six-year old son sang with the three other children.
The two youthful Lion Dancers practiced martial arts (which is required, under costume, for the Lion Dance); and the women "elder singers" had arrived from Kirkland Union Manor on S.E. Powell Boulevard at 84th Avenue. All these performances were well-attended by a diverse group of people.
Over the past seventeen years, as has been regularly reported upon by THE BEE, the Woodstock Library has had a Lunar New Year celebration almost every year. In part, that's because the library is the repository of a large collection of Chinese-language items that complement Woodstock Elementary School's Mandarin Immersion Program. The Mandarin Program was begun in 1998 – it was one of the first in the United States.
This year, after these singing and dancing performances had ended, children made crafts celebrating the Year of the Rat. Everyone present was gifted a red and gold "Hóngbao" envelope, with a chocolate coin inside.
"During the Lunar New Year, families will give out 'Red-Envelopes' to their children, nieces, and nephews, as a way of bringing good luck. They're supposed to have real money inside – but, at the Library, we can only afford chocolate coins!" joked Toan Lam-Sullivan. "Most importantly – we wanted to wish everyone a wonderful New Year, and lots of luck!"
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