On the evening February 13, over 150 community members gathered at The Hamlin School to celebrate Lunar New Year with home-cooked food and festive cheer. The uplift and positive energy was palpable, with smiles beaming out in all directions.
For Chinese, in China and in ethnic communities around the world, the lunar new year is the most important and most festive holiday of the year. Through centuries of China’s agrarian tradition, this was the one period when farmers could rest from their work in the fields. Family members from near and far would travel to be with loved ones in time to usher out the old year and welcome in the new, with great celebratory flourish. With a calendar dating from the third millennium BCE, the Chinese people have for thousands of years been building on ancient customs of New Year celebrations. Although they may vary from region to region, village to village, and even family to family according to social position, many of these customs are still observed. Today, all over China, during what is now commonly referred to as the Spring Festival, passenger trains, buses, and river boats are packed with holiday travelers; shops do a flurry of business selling gifts, new clothes, and festive foods; kitchens are bustling with preparations for elaborate feasts; and streets are filled with the sounds of firecrackers and seasonal greetings.