The line stretches down Centre Street in anticipation. Children of all ages and their parents hardly could wait to celebrate the Lunar New Year at the Museum of Chinese Art (MOCA) this past weekend when the museum doors opened for a slew of fun family activities.
Traditionally the New Year is celebrated for 16 days–extending from New Year’s eve— this year, Jan. 21 to the Lantern Festival, Feb. 5. Twelve zodiac animals represent the Chinese zodiac and this is the Year of the Rabbit. Among its qualities: are a tender sign, a noble knowing, a certain serenity, gentle, approachable, recognized where kindness is not a weakness.
To a packed lobby, the “Mane Event”— a lion dance showcased the great dexterity of the dancers under the head and backend of a costumed lion. The lion dancers moved to the percussive beat of a Chinese drumming ensemble, wowing those assembled and getting close and personal with the children seated on the floor.
Cookies and New Year’s candies fueled visitors between the performances and presentations, readings and hands-on art-making.
Chef Lian demonstrated and explained the art of pulling longevity noodles signifying long life, (the longer the noodle the better, never to be cut or broken by the cook). With plenty of dough available, all ages from the gallery gave stretching a noddle a try.
Meanwhile, downstairs children made their own lion masks selecting from an array of colorful and textured collage materials.
The afternoon’s program included author Michele Wong McSween’s children’s bilingual books display. In the Museum’s reading room, she read from one book where children and adults learn words in English and Mandarin.
A twirling ribbon workshop, a preschool storytime, candy making demo and music presentation and a red envelope art-making workshop rounded out the afternoon emerged in Chinese culture and crafts.
It is a joy for participants to welcome the Lunar New Year. The holiday’s colors and customs are treasured by the Chinese children and their families alongside other New Yorkers who fete with much gusto the annual celebration.