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Monday, October 2, 2023

Life + Arts

Houston celebrates Chinese Lunar New Year

Happy New Year! Well, Chinese New Year that is.

According to the lunar calendar, today marks the first day of the Year of the Ox. For many, this means celebrating with family and following traditional customs to ensure good luck for the next year.

At midnight this morning, many Chinese were gathered at temple, celebrating and praying for good luck in the coming year. Some of the traditional festivities include the dragon dance, fireworks and the giving of small red envelopes filled with money.

‘Everything that we do is to bring in good luck,’ John Thai, a 2004 UH alumnus said.

The dragon dance, a very recognizable feature of Chinese New Year, is also representative of good luck.

‘(The dragon) has a very elaborate head and tail, and is made of hoops with silk stretched over it,’said Melissa Dodson, a 2002 UH graduate and one time participant in the dragon dance.

Thirteen people support the dragon and carry it on poles, following each other and weaving in and out of the dancers. The dragon dance ends when the dragon is coiled with the head and tail placed very close together.

‘The (dragon) head is shaken at the crowd, and people put coins in its mouth for good luck,’ Dodson said.

Traditionally, the Chinese will also clean their homes from top to bottom and will keep it spotless through Jan. 31.

‘(The cleaning) symbolizes removing the junk of the old year – whatever is bad is thrown out,’ Thai said.

Festivities to celebrate the Lunar New Year are held throughout the week, however, and not just on the first of the year. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Jan. 31, the Chinese Community Center will host its free-admittance 2009 Lunar New Year Festival. Local and international groups will perform and bazaar booths selling ethnic food and merchandise will be set up.

The Year of the Ox will also be celebrated a little later in the year from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Feb. 7 at the Viet Hoa Center. Along with free admission, visitors can expect traditional food and song, as well as dragon dances and martial arts demonstrations.

‘Celebrating (Lunar New Year) is like Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Years all rolled into one,’ Thai said.

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