Lunar New Year welcomed in Sunset Park

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

To celebrate the Lunar New Year and usher in the Year of the Water Snake, which began on Sunday, February 10, this year, the Brooklyn Chinese-American Association hosted its annual day of celebration in Sunset Park.

According to the Chinese Lunar Calendar, the year is now 4711, and in honor of this, the traditional lion dance was performed up Eighth Avenue to symbolize the challenges of the upcoming year and to bestow prosperity on the people and businesses along the way.

Revelers also dressed up in traditional garb complete with fans and some even performed Chinese music along the parade route, which was crowded with excited onlookers.

Known as the Spring Festival, the new year is the longest and most important holiday for people of Chinese heritage, wherever they live in the world. It marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring, and is a time for family reunions, lots of food, paying respects to ancestors, and giving thanks for the past year while welcoming a new beginning.

Festivities continue for 15 days, during which people visit friends, donate money to those less fortunate, feast on special foods, wear new clothes, visit a temple and get their fortune told – all culminating in the Lantern Festival, during which more special foods are eaten and candles are lit to help guide spirits home.

In New York, the signs of celebration include not only parades and vibrant lion dances, but also fireworks and poppers, homes and businesses being festooned with red banners and the Chinese characters for prosperity and luck, and lots of red envelopes full of money being handed out to children.

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