‘Lunar New Year’ welcomed in Mill Park

Here’s why people from all over Portland came to the Midland Regional Library to celebrate the ‘Year of the Pig’. Check out all the colorful photos …

Giving out programs at for the “Midland Lunar New Year Celebration”, at the Mill Park based library, are volunteer Isabelle Chambers and Central Library staffer Chun Chou.

Story and photos by David  F. Ashton

Everyone arriving at the Midland Regional Library, on Sunday afternoon, February 10, seemed in a celebratory mood. Folks were coming from beyond outer East Portland to celebrate the Lunar New Year, and watch volunteers put on a program, and enjoy a snack.

“The date of this celebration, actually on February 5 this year, is based on our ancient calendar,” smiled Multnomah County Library Chinese Regional Librarian Toan Lam-Sullivan, just before the festivities got underway.

Ready to “ring in the Lunar New Year” are Midland Library Manager Mike Bobbish, and Toan Lam-Sullivan – Chinese Regional Librarian for East Portland libraries.

“The Lunar New Year is the most important celebration in many parts of Asia – like China, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and Taiwan,” Lam-Sullivan told East Portland News. “In these cultures, we like to start the New Year with a celebration; and, we’re celebrating the ‘beginning of everything’, together, with our families and friends,

“This is the time they get a break from work. Traditionally, especially when they were farming, the beginning of the New Year was time that they would have to get together.

This White Lotus Lion Dance “Lucky Lion” prances through the library.

“We always start with the Lion Dance; and this year, we’re fortunate to have outer East Portland’s White Lotus Lion Dance group here, to – as tradition says – ‘scare away evil spirits’, as well as to bring joy, prosperity, and good fortune to all those involved,” explained Lam-Sullivan.

The two White Lotus “Good Luck Lions” first entered the library proper, dancing through the stacks to the beat of a big drum and clanging cymbals, before stopping to put on an entertaining show in the large assembly room.

Standing tall, the Lucky Lions unfurl banners wishing everyone good luck, good health, and a Happy New Year.

“A New Year without the lion dance is not a New Year!” exclaimed Lam-Sullivan. The other tradition, lighting off endless strings of firecrackers, isn’t approved here in the City of Portland, he explained.

The program continued with cultural dances, both traditional and modern.

Portland Chinese Women’s Dance Group perform “Sky Road Dance”.

Students from the Van Lang Vietnamese School Dance Group perform a traditional dance: “Afternoon on Ban Thuorng”.

This leaping martial arts student of Summit Wushu Academy puts her all into her demonstration.

After the performances, guests enjoy a piece of “New Year Cake”.

“Our celebrations usually include lots of traditional food, including New Year Cake – a sponge cake made with rice flour,” Lam-Sullivan said.

On their way out, youngsters (and some adults) get a red envelope containing “Lucky Money” from Leyem Nguyen – it’s for play, but fun!

Whether one says “Kuai le de nong lì xin nian” or Chuc mung nam moi am lich” – we wish all our readers a “Happy Lunar New Year”!

© 2019 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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