Lunar New Year celebrated at Midland Library

The regional library was filled with celebrants welcoming the ‘Year of the Monkey’ …

Greeting families and distributing programs at Midland Library are Bao-Chau Tieu and Tam Tieu.

Story and photos by David F. Asthon

From the raucous drumming, and the sounding of Chinese cymbals to summon the “Lucky New Year Lion”, to cultural dances performed to more low-key music, the Midland Regional Library rang with goings-on, the afternoon of February 20, as outer East Portland neighbors celebrated the Lunar New Year.

As is the custom, the activities were family-oriented – primarily featuring a program, played out before a standing-room-only audience, in the large meeting room.

Ting Oliver, Vietnamese Library Assistant (center, in black jacket with red blouse), gathers the Vietnamese children – with the help of their parents – to attend her ‘Story Time’, before the program begins.

Percussionists from the NW Dragon and Lion Dance Association “woke up” the two “Good Luck Lions”, who prowled the lobby and headed toward the stacks, before their handlers herded them into the room where the program was to take place. The audience delighted with the prancing antics of the colorful, mythical creatures, brought to life by acrobatic dancers.

Multnomah County Library Chinese Regional Librarian Toan Lam-Sullivan spends a moment with local program organizers Sally Li, Cherry Chan, and Carol Parten.

Two “Good Luck Lions” from the NW Dragon and Lion Dance Association prance and greet revelers, at the Lunar New Year celebration in the Midland Regional Library’s lobby.

Once they joined the celebration, the “Good Luck Lions” put on a colorful show.

“It’s important to hold a celebration like this because we want to keep our culture alive here,” said Multnomah County Library Chinese Regional Librarian Toan Lam-Sullivan.

The Lunar New Year is a time when families get together to come together, even if they travel along distance, to see one another and enjoy a great feast, explained Lam-Sullivan.

Outside the library, members of the Formosa Association of Student Cultural Ambassadors warm up for their performance with Chinese Yoyos.

“This isn’t only for people of Asian heritage,” Lam-Sullivan told East Portland News. “We want to show other people about our celebration. The Lunar New Year is very meaningful for us; it’s as important as Christmas is in Western cultures. For us, it’s like Christmas and New Year’s Day, all in one.”

One difference, he pointed out, is that the celebratory season lasts 15 days; in China, everyone takes a six-day holiday.

Dressed in traditional costumes, youngsters from the Vietnamese Story Time group perform to a song with a Western beat.

“The Lion Dance has been around for longer than a thousand years,” Lam-Sullivan explained. “So are the cultural dances – here, today, representing the people of Vietnam, Korea, and China.

“We feel good when we share our rich cultural background.” Lam-Sullivan said.

After the performance, because food is always associated with the Lunar New Year, guests were served traditional cookies, cakes, and punch.

From the Oregon Korean Association, these traditionally dressed ladies about to perform a cultural dance.

In the Chinese tradition, the “Year of the Monkey” is considered a time of bad luck. Chinese folklore suggests wearing the color red, especially if the item is purchased by another and given to you; wearing jade accessories; and to “face away” from bad luck, to help you have a successful and healthful year.

© 2016 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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