Brooklynites kicked off a month of Lunar New Year Celebrations at Il Centro Community Center in Bath Beach on Feb. 3.
Dozens of locals came together to welcome the Year of the Dragon with cultural performances, lion dances, speeches, and music ahead of Lunar New Year, which officially begins on Feb. 11.
“Lunar New Year is a very important festival in Chinese culture,” said Tim Law, founder of the Chinese American Social Services Center.
The holiday is a chance to “get rid of the old and the bad and welcome the good, and the new,” Law said.
In the spirit of a new year, people dress in new clothes and new shoes celebrate, visit relatives, and wish them the best in the new year, Law explained.
At Saturday’s celebration — co-sponsored by Homecrest Community Services, the Chinese American Social Services Center, and the United Chinese Association of Brooklyn — Brooklynites performed traditional dances, including the iconic lion dance, to bring good luck and good fortune. The elaborately-decorated lions also chomped down heads of lettuce and spat the greens out at attendees as part of a ceremony called “choy cheng,” which is meant to bring good luck.
The event “truly marked a memorable Lunar New Year for our Southern Brooklyn community,” Il Centro shared on Facebook after the celebration. “United with supportive local officials, we symbolized letting go of the past and embracing the present, focusing on shedding the old and welcoming the new.”
The coming year is the Year of the Dragon — the fifth animal in the 12-year Chinese zodiac cycle. People born in the Year of the Dragon are said to be good leaders with plenty of energy, ideas, and confidence.
“The dragon recognizes the power, strength, prosperity, and justice,” Chen said. “That’s why next year will be a very successful and prosperous new year.”
Additional reporting by Arthur de Gaeta