Lunar New Year celebrated in Mill Park

If you missed this festive event, held in Midland Library, take a moment to learn about it …

Volunteer Anh Nguyn welcomes participants to the 2017 Lunar New Year celebration held in the Mill Park Neighborhood, at Midland Library.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

The annual celebration of the Lunar New Year in Asian countries began on January 28, marking the “Year of the Rooster”, but the merriment continued for about two weeks, according to Chinese tradition. On February 5, an afternoon of music, dance – kicked off by energetic Lion Dance performers – took place at Midland Regional Library.

The celebration was said to have started during the Shang Dynasty (1766 BC to 1122 BC), and coincides with the time just before a new year of farm work begins – as a time of preparation. Although many Asian populations are now urban, it’s still a traditional time for families to reunite.

Host for the welcoming of the “Year of the Rooster” is Midland Library Vietnamese Library Assistant Trang Oliver.

“Hosting this Lunar New Year event is important, because it reminds us of our culture, and provides a good opportunity to introduce some of our cultural heritage to those unfamiliar with it,” remarked Midland Library Vietnamese Library Assistant Trang Oliver, as the celebration was getting underway.

“This reminds families who settled here, and teaches children who are born here, about these important days that we celebrate together, and in which we appreciate each other,” Oliver told East Portland News.

This ‘New Year Lio’n prowls the library, to the delight of little patrons.

The celebratory Lion delights kids and parents alike.

The sound of beating drums and clanging cymbals echoed through the library’s main hall, signaling the start of the Lion Dance. According to tradition, these brightly colored and wildly expressive beasts – this year expertly brought to life by members of the White Lotus Lion Dance Association – bring good luck, and drive away evil spirits during the festival.

“This gives us an opportunity to communicate to my community, and to other communities, as we share our culture with others,” explained Oliver. “When people learn about each other’s cultures, we all get more understanding, which helps those from outside our culture learn more about our influences, and where they come from.”

Students from the Van Lang Vietnamese School perform cultural Vietnamese dances to an appreciative audience.

Performing cultural dances are students at the Woodstock Elementary Mandarin Immersion School.

In addition to dance performances, the afternoon also included Chinese music by the Wisdom Arts, a Chinese Tai Chi Fan Dance by Xui Fang, and a Vietnamese dance by Au Co. Then, everyone present was invited to enjoy the provided refreshments.

A Vietnamese fashion show,  presented by the participants in the library’s “Vietnamese Storytime” group, included these two models.

“We’re all so busy, it’s good to have events like this to remind us that there is something really precious in our culture and heritage,” Oliver pointed out. “Sometime we need to take time out during the busy days, to be able to relax and enjoy this day that is so special in our culture.”

© 2017 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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