Celebrations of the Lunar New Year are in full swing worldwide as China's traditional Spring Festival holiday draws growing, enthusiastic attention across the globe.
From North America to Europe and Asia, the Lunar New Year welcomes the Year of the Dragon with vibrant festivities worldwide.
Chinese New Year 2024 falls on Saturday, Feb 10. The date changes every year but is always somewhere between Jan 21 and Feb 20.
2024 is the Year of the Dragon, based on the Chinese zodiac. The dragon is perceived by the Chinese people to represent dignity, prestige, and auspiciousness.
China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism has unveiled a mascot, dubbed "Jixiang Long", literally lucky dragon, featuring a gesture of welcome and a smiley face, auspicious cloud ears, and a gold ingot-shaped nose.
"The divine animal is an inseparable part of the Chinese civilization and is an important spiritual symbol of the Chinese people, embodying our hope for and pursuit of peace, joy, and good luck," said Lin Cunzhen, professor and associate dean of the School of Design at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, and the lead designer of the mascot.
The United Nations has listed the Lunar New Year as a UN floating holiday in its calendar of conferences and meetings for 2024.
The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in December 2023, requesting the UN agencies at its New York headquarters and other duty stations to avoid holding meetings during the Lunar New Year.
Many countries list the Spring Festival as a national holiday, and about one-fifth of humanity celebrates it in various ways, Dai Bing, China's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, said after the resolution's adoption.
"Everyone was spreading the news, and it was really a very happy day, just like the New Year," Nan Kang, a UN staff member, told China Daily.
"From the point of view of an international staff member, especially one of Chinese nationality, I would feel that our culture is represented on the world stage. The culture is represented and valued," said Kang, who is also the president of the Chinese Book Club at the UN.
All public schools in New York State will be closed for one day for the Lunar New Year. A state law signed into effect in 2023 declared the Lunar New Year a public school holiday starting this year.
It is the only US state that has done so, said Chinese Consul General in New York Huang Ping. "But it is a good start," he said.
On the US East Coast, arts institutions, including the Philadelphia Orchestra and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, will present a series of Lunar New Year concerts.
The New York Philharmonic presented the first Lunar New Year concert in eastern US in 2012. Since then, it has been working with Chinese artists for 12 consecutive years to celebrate the Lunar New Year.
For the fifth consecutive year, Lincoln Center in New York City will host The Sound of Spring, a Lunar New Year concert, on Feb 11. This year, it will feature musicians from China, with traditional Chinese musical instruments, including the erhu and suona. The concert attracts nearly 1,000 attendees each year.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York will host family day programs for local people to experience Chinese cultural heritage.
The National Basketball Association, or NBA, teams such as the Brooklyn Nets organize themed events for the Lunar New Year.
This year marks the 12th consecutive year of the Nets celebrating the Lunar New Year, which is the NBA's biggest and most established Chinese-themed night across the league, said Catherine Carson, executive vice-president of global partnerships at BSE Global, the parent company of Barclays Center, the Nets and others.
"The night speaks to the community, the community that we serve in Brooklyn. We have such a diverse community, including our Chinese community," Carson told China Daily.
"While we are enjoying ourselves, we're actually doing something to contribute to the mutual understanding between our two peoples and to the friendship and the relationship between our two countries," Huang said at a reception for the launch of the consulate's Lunar New Year program on Jan 16.
California embraces diverse celebrations, offering more than 40 ways to engage in both in-person and virtual events.
San Francisco has the largest Chinatown in the US, and New Year celebrations have been taking place there since the 1860s.
The Chinese New Year Parade is one of the few remaining illuminated night parades in North America and the biggest parade celebrating the New Year outside of Asia.
In London, the London Eye wheel glittered in red and gold, two colors that symbolize joy and prosperity in Chinese culture, to count down to Chinese New Year on Feb 8.
Prior to the transformation of the London Eye, the Chinese New Year mood has built across the United Kingdom.
On Feb 1, an exhibition of zimingzhong, or striking clocks that were collected by Chinese emperors during the 1700s, kicked off at London's Science Museum, showcasing more than three centuries of exchanges between China and the UK.
In the display, more than 20 resplendent clocks were brought from the Palace Museum in Beijing and shown in the UK for the first time.
The timepieces reveal the early trade history of the two countries, because many were made by British craftsmen, designed for the Chinese market, and taken to China's south coast to be traded for silk, tea, and porcelain. The exchange of goods led to the exchange of skills, represented by exhibits that were constructed using both Chinese and European technologies.
"We are excited to welcome everyone to join us in celebrating the opening of the exhibition and the Year of the Dragon," said Jane Desborough, keeper of science collections at the Science Museum and curator of the exhibition.
Tens of thousands of people are expected to join in a carnival on Feb 11 organized by the London Chinatown Chinese Association, or LCCA, that will include a lively parade, stage performances, and food stalls surrounding Trafalgar Square.
Up north in Scotland, Edinburgh has been witnessing a festive atmosphere since Feb 3, with a wave of activities, including shows of hanfu (a traditional Chinese style of clothing), Chinese calligraphy workshops, red envelope giveaway games and more.
Since its inception in 2019, the Edinburgh Chinese New Year Festival has become the largest celebration of its kind in Scotland, according to Rob Lang, chair of Edinburgh Tourism Action Group's China Ready Initiative.
"Chinese New Year is a fantastic opportunity to encourage our people of Edinburgh to learn more about Chinese culture and history, and it is something that is at the core of the entire city," Lang said.
In Birmingham, England, Chinese pianist Xiao Di hosted her 12th annual Didi & Friends Chinese New Year Concert on Feb 8, where musicians from different genres played a mix of traditional Chinese and Western pieces.
Daniele Rosina, a conductor for the concert and director of orchestral studies at the University of Birmingham, said being involved was an "honor" and that he appreciated the strong emphasis on gathering for the Spring Festival.
Thailand and other Asian countries are also lighting up for Spring Festival celebrations.
Provinces and cities across Thailand organize big celebrations for the Chinese New Year and a series of cultural feasts of performances along with illuminations that fan out to welcome the Year of Dragon.
Concerts, art expos
To celebrate the Lunar New Year on Saturday, the Thai government works together with the Chinese embassy and organizes various activities with public participation, including concerts, art exhibitions and performances.
A light show kicked off in Yaowarat, or Chinatown, in Bangkok, at the beginning of this month.
The Chinese New Year is celebrated in Thailand mostly by the Thai-Chinese communities. Traditional activities for celebration include lion and dragon dances and fireworks, which attract participants ranging from the Royal family to the general public.
This year's celebration also marks 49 years of diplomatic relations between Thailand and China and the fruitful cultural and tourism collaboration between the two partners and close neighbors.
The celebration promises a cultural feast of mesmerizing performances from both Thailand and China. Top attractions include a dance troupe from China's Fujian province.
In Singapore, New Year celebrations include River Hongbao at Gardens by the Bay, Chinatown's Chinese New Year Festival, and Gardens by the Bay's Flower Dome. The Chingay Parade features vibrant costumes and street art installations with elegant blossom themes.
Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is expected to display 32 fireworks on Lunar New Year's Eve.
In island countries such as the Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Fiji, the celebrations include special treats, decorations and activities for both locals and Chinese visitors.
In the Maldives, local agencies are hosting special events to mark the occasion this year. Baglioni Resort Maldives, for instance, is sending good wishes and decorating its facilities and resorts, with red lanterns and other traditional artwork symbolizing good luck and prosperity. Anantara villas are to host a Chinese-style lion dance, live music and other performances apart from a dinner gala in seaside ambience on Feb 10.
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