By Merle Exit
Next week don’t be surprised if someone wishes you a happy New Year.
No, they may not necessarily be seven weeks late with this holiday greeting. More likely they are celebrating the Year of the Goat as the Lunar New Year kicks off Feb. 19.
Celebrated for 15 days, the Lunar, or Chinese, New Year marks the beginning of the new calendar and is a time Asian cultures honor deities and previous generations.
“It is celebrated as a family gathering,” said Dian Yu, executive director of the Flushing BID. “It is a time of reunion, thanksgiving and honoring ancestors as one great community.”
The highlight of each celebration in Queens is the Lunar New Year Parade in downtown Flushing.
Incorporating dozens of decorated floats, giant dragon figures on poles manipulated by dancers, marching bands and politicians, this year’s parade is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 21, starting at 11 a.m. at Union Street and 37th Avenue.
After the parade, spectators can head to the Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main St., for free children’s craft activities.
But you don’t have to wait to jump start the celebrations, many of which, get under way this weekend.
Once again Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Blvd., will serve as the unofficial Lunar New Year headquarters for the borough with performances, exhibitions and, new this year, a traditional holiday bazaar.
“We typically celebrate for about one month, bringing in an exhibition, art-making workshops and varied performances for the public, schoolchildren and families to honor the Lunar New Year,” said Ellen Kodadek, executive and artistic director, Flushing Town Hall. “This year for the first time we are presenting a traditional Chinese temple bazaar with performances, workshops, vendors and food.”
Other events planned for Flushing Town Hall include a performance of the play, “Film Chinois,” by the Pan Asian Repertory Theatre, Feb. 15; a presentation of traditional and contemporary Asian choreography by dance troupe Dancing Wind, Feb. 20; a sampler of Chinese, Korean, Taiwanese and other national dances, Feb. 22; an exhibition, along with a demonstration, by two master calligraphers, also Feb. 22; and a concert of traditional Chinese folk music, accompanied by dance and acrobatic stunts, by EastRiver Ensemble, Feb. 28.
On Sunday, Feb. 15, the celebration shifts to Flushing Meadows Corona Park and the Queens Museum, where the New York Chinese Cultural Center hosts its “Lunar New Year Bash — The Year of the Goat.”
The program, which runs from 1 p.m. – 4:30 p.m., includes costumed performers presenting dances from China’s various regions and ethnic groups. Museum visitors can also take part in a Chinese paper cutting demonstration and take home their own creation of this 15,000-year-old folk art form.
Although the Lunar New Year is often referred to as the Chinese New Year, the holiday is not limited to China.
The Vietnamese celebrate Tét. In Korea the holiday is called Seoinal. And in the mountainous regions of Tibet the celebration goes by the name Losar — made up of the Tibetan words for year, lo, and new, sar.
At Astoria’s Spanish Center, 41-01 Broadway, take part in a traditional Tibetan Losar celebration Feb. 22.
The afternoon includes prayer ceremonies and a Tibetan lunch. Tickets are available by calling (917) 300-9254. Tickets are $20/advance registration, $30/at door.