Representing 20 percent of the world’s population, people of Chinese descent currently outnumber all other ethnicities on the planet. Coupled with the fact that they traditionally observe the incoming year for a full two weeks – beginning on January 23 on our Gregorian calendar – this makes the Chinese New Year one of the most notable holidays celebrated on the worldwide stage. Certainly, it’s the most important holiday within Chinese culture, observed with festivals and family gatherings, firecrackers, music, dance and special foods.
Bringing in the New Year means 15 days of festivities geared toward creating health, wealth and happiness by reconciling differences, forgetting grudges and sincerely wishing peace and happiness for all. People wear red to scare away evil spirits and bad fortune. They clean house to sweep away ill fortune and to make way for good luck.
For Chinese and Chinese-Americans here in the mid-Hudson Valley, keeping up the traditions also means sharing them with the larger community at events like the Chinese New Year Celebration to be held at the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum on Saturday, February 11 from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Produced in collaboration with the Dutchess County Arts Council Folk Arts Program, the program will bring Chinese culture to a wide audience, as it invites the public to be active participants in welcoming the New Year. Children can participate in and learn about activities associated with Chinese festivals, including traditional Chinese folk dances, Chinese yo-yo and Wushu (Chinese martial arts). Hands-on activities for kids include learning to use chopsticks while playing a chopsticks game, and learning the delicate balance of the Chinese yo-yo. Additionally, interested audience members can participate in an informal dance lesson to learn a Chinese and a Taiwanese folk dance.
Traditionally, New Year festivities begin on the first day of the first Moon of the lunar calendar and continue until the Moon is at its fullest and brightest 15 days later. The event at the Children’s Museum marks the culmination of festivities ushering in the Year of the Dragon. Admission is free and open to the public. Museum admission is not included in the program, but is available at $7.50 per person. The Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum is located at 75 North Water Street in Poughkeepsie, near the Metro North train station. For further information, call (845) 454-3222 or (845) 471-0589 or visit www.artmidhudson.org and www.mhcm.org.