The Moorestown Library and the Perkins Center for the Arts invite the community to celebrate the Lunar New Year, the Year of the Dragon, on Saturday, Feb. 10, Thursday, Feb. 15, Saturday, Feb. 17, and Saturday, Feb. 24.
“We’re not an organization, we’re just neighbors coming together,” said township resident Sharon Hou. “At the beginning, in order to set this in motion, we kept it rather simple. We just started with the Chinese community.
“I really think the Chinese community did carry a lot of weight in this,” she added, “so I don’t want to not give them that, even though it is contributed by many, many other people. And if we are repeating that, next year, we will be able to start a little earlier and reach out to more ethnic groups.”
“Once it’s a culture, it’s not regional. It can go anywhere, so hopefully we can expand the reach next year.”
Moorestown’s 2024 Lunar New Year Celebration is made possible by the Chinese neighbors of Moorestown, the Moorestown library, the Perkins Center, MooreUnity, the Better Together Committee, Akira and the high school’s Asian Club.
Perkins’ festivities will include a tea ceremony hosted by Hou; a calligraphic couplet demonstration by Shutian Cao; coffee and classics with Chinese American classical musician Candace Chien; a brush painting demonstration by Jenson Cheng; and a Guzheng performance with Ying Yang, among others.
A lantern display and lighting will take place on Saturday, Feb. 24, at 5:30 p.m. The library’s festivities will include calligraphy, paper-cut art, Chinese knotting, lantern-making, Lantern riddles and stamping art.
“For me, it’s just another showcase of how everybody is so fun loving,” Hou noted. “We’re way more similar than different, even though we come from different cultural backgrounds.”
According to chinesenewyear.net, the Lunar New Year falls on Feb. 10, and celebrations culminate with the lantern festival on Feb. 24. Though the lantern festival symbolizes reunions, it’s also a time of socializing and freedom.
The new year is celebrated in most eastern Asian and southeast Asian countries, and is thought to date back to the Shang Dynasty of China in 14th century B.C. The festival began as a time for feasting and to honor household and heavenly deities, as well as ancestors. It was also a time to pray for a good harvest.
“I just feel like this town is a smaller window of a bigger country,” Moorestown resident Grace Schaffer observed. “We are all people, and we all have our own different highlights, different heritage …
“We’re all people, and through events like this, we will realize we are more similar than different,” she added. “We all are humans, and this is the place we all love and we want to make it better.”
“Our (MooreUnity) goal when we formed, our mission was to celebrate diversity and facilitate unity, and this type of event does exactly that,” explained Karen Reiner, president of the organization.
“ … Getting to know other people, celebrating cultures, understanding people’s backgrounds, finding that we have more in common … That’s what we aim to do.”
Candace North Donovan, a member of the Better Together Committee, echoed Hou and Schaffer.
“We might not live the same way, we might not interact the same way, but we have a lot in common,” she pointed out. “I want people to come out with more understanding of the Asian community, I want people coming out with more education …
“I want people to come out of their culture and see a different way of living.”