Year of the Dog

by Georgia I. Salvaryn

Large crowds of people gathered on Canal Street in Chinatown, Manhattan on Sunday morning, despite the chilly winter air and the light drizzling rain. The streets were lined with costumed lion dancers, dragon dancers, decorated floats and bundled up parade volunteers holding mini Chinese and American flags, red balloons and confetti canons. The sidewalk was packed to the point where no one could move without stepping on someone’s toes.

salvaryn_woman on the float
CHINATOWN, MANHATTAN, NEW YORK 02/25/2018 YEAR OF THE DOG/WOMAN ON THE FLOAT: A woman poses for the camera as floats gather on Canal Street before the Lunar New Year parade begins in Chinatown, Manhattan on Sunday. – Photo by Georgia I. Salvaryn

It was that time of year again; when people around the country and all around the world gathered with their family and friends and embellished their houses with red and gold decorations to celebrate the new year. Each year, this widely known holiday falls on a different day depending on the lunar calendar. According to old folk customs, the new year falls on the 23rd day of the twelfth lunar month, and each new year is accompanied by a different zodiac animal. This year is the year of the dog.

There are twelve different zodiac animals: (in order) the rat, the ox, the tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the goat, the monkey, the rooster, the dog and the pig. According to a Chinese legend, the zodiac animals have their own personality traits and are based on a race organized by the Jade Emperor. The order was dependent on who crossed the finish line. This widespread Chinese myth has many different variations but always ends the same way; the rat finished in first place and the pig finished last.

Each new year celebration is carried out by traditions with unique style and decorations, depending on the zodiac animal and different cultural rituals. Lunar new year celebrations in America are generally based on Chinese traditions and celebrated in Chinatowns and big cities, such as New York City and Philadelphia.

A celebration as widely acclaimed as the lunar new year hardly ever goes untouched by artistic organizations such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan. The museum hosted a series of events and workshops on Saturday to celebrate the new year and encourage others to learn more about Chinese traditions and cultural rituals.

salvaryn_lion dance
THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART, MANHATTAN, NEW YORK 02/24/2018 YEAR OF THE DOG/LION DANCE: People crowd The Great Hall to watch the lion dancers at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Saturday. – Photo by Georgia I. Salvaryn

The event started off with a lion dance in The Great Hall. As the lion dancers made their way into the building, crowds of people made their way to the center of the room to watch the performance. The hall was filled with a mixed horde of citizens and foreigners gathering around to take in the unique, ethnic experience. The workshops offered by the museum included fan painting, hand drum and fan dancing, bubble tea making and a hand-pulled noodle demonstration with a master chef.

salvaryn_Antonio on Pietro Shoulders
THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART, MANHATTAN, NEW YORK 02/24/2018 YEAR OF THE DOG/ANTONIO ON PIETRO’S SHOULDERS: Pietro Ferraro, 40, carries his son Antonio, 2, on his shoulders after watching the lion dance in The Great Hall at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Saturday. Antonio wears a traditional Chinese jacket, called a changshan. The Chinese people believe wearing red and gold during the new year will bring good luck, good fortune and happiness to the individual wearing the colors. – Photo by Georgia I. Salvaryn

The fan painting workshop was very popular amongst young children attending the event. The room and seats quickly filled up with parents and kids eager to create beautiful masterpieces. Many of the children wasted no time in getting their brushes wet and hands dirty.

salvaryn_Chloe fan painting
THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART, MANHATTAN, NEW YORK 02/24/2018 YEAR OF THE DOG/CHLOE FAN PAINTING: Jennyfer Penaranda, 33, watches her daughter Chloe, 9, draw Chinese characters on a fan during a fan painting workshop in the Carroll Classroom at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Saturday. Jennyfer says Chloe wants to learn the Chinese language and aspires to study linguistics when she grows up. – Photo by Georgia I. Salvaryn
salvaryn_Ella fan painting
THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART, MANHATTAN, NEW YORK 02/24/2018 YEAR OF THE DOG/ELLA FAN PAINTING: Ella Lee, 9, paints a fan during a fan painting workshop in the Carroll Classroom at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Saturday. She is accompanied by her sister Sophie, 7, her brother Alex, 3, her mother Carol, 41 and her grandmother Lena Lee. – Photo by Georgia I. Salvaryn
salvaryn_Cisy and Hande fan painting
THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART, MANHATTAN, NEW YORK 02/24/2018 YEAR OF THE DOG/CISY AND HANDE FAN PAINTING: Cisy, 3, and her tutor Hande Erkin, 32, paint a fan together during a fan painting workshop in the Carroll Classroom at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Saturday. – Photo by Georgia I. Salvaryn
salvaryn_Cisy fan painting
THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART, MANHATTAN, NEW YORK 02/24/2018 YEAR OF THE DOG/CISY FAN PAINTING: Cisy dips her paint-soaked brush into a bowl of water to clean it. – Photo by Georgia I. Salvaryn
salvaryn_Lena and Alex fan painting
THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART, MANHATTAN, NEW YORK 02/24/2018 YEAR OF THE DOG/LENA AND ALEX FAN PAINTING: Lena Lee helps her grandson Alex, 3, write the characters of his Chinese name on his fan during a fan painting class in the Carroll Classroom at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Saturday. – Photo by Georgia I. Salvaryn

To kick of the new year, citizens of Chinatown, Manhattan participated in a “year of the dog” parade. Dozens of floats were decorated with red and gold. Many of the volunteers and parade members also wore red to bring good luck and good fortune to themselves and their families for the new year. This yearly celebration never fails to disappoint its crowds. As one woman at the parade said, “I love coming to this parade every year. I believe it is important for my daughter to experience and embrace different cultures.”

salvaryn_fan dance
CHINATOWN, MANHATTAN, NEW YORK 02/25/2018 YEAR OF THE DOG/FAN DANCE LADIES: A group of ladies dressed in red and gold traditional Chinese clothing, called a qipao, parade down the Canal Street demonstrating a traditional fan dance as they follow the floats and lion dancers that lead the parade. – Photo by Georgia I. Salvaryn
salvaryn_little girl
CHINATOWN, MANHATTAN, NEW YORK 02/25/2018 YEAR OF THE DOG/LITTLE GIRL ON SHOULDERS: A little girl waves a Chinese flag as she sits on her father’s shoulders to watch the parade of lion dancers and floats pass by on Canal Street in Chinatown on Sunday. Hundreds of people gather in Chinatown every year for this celebration to express their appreciation for the Chinese culture and observe the traditions of the widely known holiday. – Photo by Georgia I. Salvaryn
salvaryn_picture of lion dancers
CHINATOWN, MANHATTAN, NEW YORK 02/25/2018 YEAR OF THE DOG/LION DANCERS: Lion dancers zig zag through the parade of floats and groups of dancers to wish a happy new year to the crowd as they march down Canal Street. There are always numerous lion dancers present at lunar new year parades to entertain outsiders and visit shops, stores and restaurants to wish them good luck and good fortune in the new year. – Photo by Georgia I. Salvaryn
salvaryn_confetti and the flag
CHINATOWN, MANHATTAN, NEW YORK 02/25/2018 YEAR OF THE DOG/CONFETTI: Confetti flies through the air at Canal and Mott Street as speakers on a stage at the parade pop confetti canons to start the lunar new year parade. The speakers, speaking in both English and Cantonese, introduce people who play an important part in organizing the parade and thank the NYPD for their help, support and services. – Photo by Georgia I. Salvaryn

 

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