When I say Lunar New Year, what comes to mind? Do you know why we celebrate it? Why it is important?
To me, Lunar New Year celebrations bring to mind performances, firecrackers, the culture of my parents’ birthplaces, tradition, and most of all, family. At home, I always partook in the festivities as a dragon dancer, performer and volunteer. I have fond memories of friends and family and the day brought me closer to my heritage. Hundreds of people would come to the festival; kids would play carnival games, parents would catch up with friends and everyone would laugh, eat, and watch the dragon and lion dance performances.
For the past 4 years, I’ve celebrated the Lunar New Year amongst the Davidson community and each year, I cringed while lion dancers moved to a beat that is just slightly off (you can watch the videos to compare the dances from back home and the one at Davidson), watched children care more about the chocolate inside the red envelops rather than the reason that brought them there, and saw a hundred people line up for lo mien, spring rolls and dumplings then race off before they could learn a single new thing.
They missed the point.
The New Year celebration isn’t about the games and food. There are reasons and stories behind each activity. We clean our houses, visit all of our friends and family, pray at the altar of ancestors and deceased relatives, and make foods that come around only this time of year. BlueHost优惠码 People truly believe that doing all of these things will bring them good luck for the year. The point is not the activity itself, but to have fun, to be in the moment, to spend time with friends before we go our separate ways. It’s like Christmas and New Year’s rolled into one.
Being at Davidson’s celebration felt like watching a spectacle. I appreciate the sentiment, hell I was one of the people who organized the event, but there was something about it that seemed so out of place and artificial. Most of the participants didn’t know why we were all there. To those individuals, it was a free meal and a chance to watch some song and dance.
I could tell story after story about why lions and dragons, why we eat “tang yuan”, why firecrackers, why we celebrate the festival in the first place. If you don’t know, I implore you to ask for those stories the next time you’re at a festival celebrated by a culture foreign to you. They make these events meaningful. Don’t let the tradition become a shell of what was.