The Museum of Chinese in America

Founded in 1980, the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) is dedicated to preserving and presenting the history, heritage, culture and diverse experiences of people of Chinese descent in the United States.

From Our Collection: Lion Dances, Then and Now

If you’ve been to Chinatown during Lunar New Year, you know that the celebrations are loud and colorful: street vendors sell vibrant fruits and flowers, and bright confetti lines the streets. The most well-known part of Lunar New Year, though, seems to be the lion dances that attract throngs of people every year.

During the new year, dance troupes visit local homes and businesses in the neighborhood, accompanied by the sound of deep drums and sharp cymbals. The lion dance—an ancient tradition—is meant to chase away evil spirits and bring good luck and prosperity. Our Collections Department presents a few photographs of lion dances from the last century:

Early 1900’s. 2004.073.018, MOCA Collection. Colored postcard depicting the Chinese Lion Dance on Chinese New Year. Printed on the back: “Chinatown at the Turn-of-the-Century from the antique original. Carinell-Vincent Co. Courtesy of K. Yee Collection.”

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Filed under: Collections, Lunar New Year, MOCA Monday, , , , ,

Happy Lunar New Year from Our Museum Staff!

Happy New Year / 新年快乐!

To jumpstart the Year of the Rabbit, we’ve asked some of our staff members to share their thoughts and memories of their Lunar New Year experiences. Hope you enjoy!

First, a word from our Director, S. Alice Mong:

Hearty welcome to the Year of the Rabbit!

I have been eagerly anticipating today –first day of the Lunar New Year for quite some time now as Year of the Tiger has been full of too many ups and downs and I was happy to see its passing.  We just got done with a hearty New Year office lunch of noodles (signifying longevity), nian gao (made of glutinous rice which sounds like another year higher or taller), dumplings and green vegetables.  I passed out my traditional lai-see/hong bao (red packet with money) to the unmarried staff to wish them a happy new year.  The food and hong bao all brought back wonderful memories of Chinese New year the way we use to celebrate in Taiwan before we immigrated to the US.  I explained Chinese New Year to those not familiar with it as a combination of Easter (we deck out in our new cloth), Thanksgiving (big family feast—usually at Lunar New Year’s Eve), Christmas (instead of presents, we get the lai see (in Cantonese)/hong bao  (in Mandarin) –with so many aunts and uncles, we kids generally start off the New Year in a very prosperous way) and of course, it’s also like Fourth of July with its firecracker and fireworks (less so these days due to fire regulations).

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Filed under: Lunar New Year, MOCA, , , , , , , , , ,

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