D.C. Chinatown’s Biggest Celebration of the Lunar New Year
“I am not an emotional person, but whenever I go to Chinese parade, it gives me the sense of belonging.”
A Chinese New Year Parade will be held to celebrate the Lunar New Year in Chinatown on Sunday, Feb. 18 from 2 – 5 p.m.
This annual parade is one of the District’s signature Chinese New Year celebrations. Also known as the “Spring Festival”, Chinese New Year is the most important holiday in China because it’s the time for family reunion.
The annual celebration features traditional Chinese lion and dragon dances, live musical performances, marching bands, firecrackers and much more. The Chinese-American Military Veterans, Maple Academy of Irish Dance and D.C. Asian Pacific American Film will participate in this year’s event as well. Spectators will also get to see many dogs wearing costumes to ring in the Year of the Dog.
Those planning to attend should arrive early to experience even more fun the event has to offer. Thirty minutes before the celebration begins, the Main Attraction Divaz dance team and the 3 Princes will dance in the street. The lively parade starts at 2 p.m., followed by lion and dragon dances on stage at the corner of 7th & H street around 3 p.m. By the end of the event, lit firecrackers will around the lion and dragon dancers. The members of Chinese Youth Club (CYC) march will hand out lucky red envelopes called hong bao and fortune cookies.
“Spring Festival is a big deal in China, so families always gather together to celebrate the festival,” said Fengyue Zhang, a Chinese international student. “We eat while watching the Spring Festival Gala, and we are counting down the seconds to the new year ...We set off firecrackers and do other stuff.”
In China, firecrackers are used to celebrate the New Year and drive away evil.
Hong bao is another important tradition of Spring Festival. Adults usually give the red envelopes to young children to ward off evil spirits and keep the children healthy.
It is significant to the Chinese community to its own culture represented in the parade, Tom Fong, parade marshall, said.
“You close your eyes and hear firecracker, you see the lion dancing and moving; that might be the same thing that you see and hear from 300 years ago,” Fong said.“That’s the cultural aspect of the parade: to make sure we keep strong our cultural identity.”
Fong said that it’s important to maintain cultural diversity, not just for Chinese, but also for all over the world.
“Chinese New Year parade is a shared cultural event,” Fong said. “You want to be proud of your culture, but also embrace other culture.”