China / Hot Issues

Ties shine during Lunar New Year in US

By William Hennelly (China Daily) Updated: 2016-02-18 08:30

When it comes to Lunar New Year, relations between China and the US couldn't be better.

Each year, the traditional Chinese celebration moves further into the US mainstream's consciousness.

White House ceremony? Check (the second one took place on Tuesday).

Empire State Building illuminated in red and yellow? Check (since 2000, actually).

And this year, Lunar New Year took Capitol Hill.

The First Annual Congressional Lunar New Year Celebration and Reception took place at the US Capitol Building in Washington on Feb 10.

"I think it is important to recognize that we have it celebrated in one of these Congress buildings, because it is a powerful statement that the US respects and honors the Lunar New Year," said Ted Lieu, a US congressman from California.

Ties shine during Lunar New Year in US

For the first time in New York City, public school children had the day off for Lunar New Year on Feb 8.

A new US Postal Service stamp in commemoration of the Year of the Monkey, this year's zodiac sign under the traditional Chinese calendar, also made its debut on Feb 5.

The stamp was designed by Kam Mak, 54, an illustrator born in Hong Kong who grew up in New York. The stamp features two red-orange peonies symbolizing honor and wealth, which are used to decorate the drums played during lion dances; the paper-cut design of a monkey by the late artist Clarence Lee, and the Chinese character for monkey, presented in calligraphy by Lau Bun.

"As the most important holiday of the year for many Asian communities around the world, Lunar New Year is celebrated with distinct traditions including giving flowers, potted plants and bouquets as gifts," the USPS website says. "The red peony featured on this year's stamp symbolizes richness and honor, making it a favorite Lunar New Year gift and decoration."

Lunar New Year has its share of commercial pitches, too. In recent weeks, Tsingtao, China's most recognizable beer brand (at least in the US), ran a brilliantly lit display on one of Times Square's towering video marquees. An explosion of colors greeted those walking down West 43rd Street toward the square.

Macy's stores in New York and California ran special promotions. Disneyland and Universal Studios in California also honored Spring Festival.

In San Francisco, a city which has a large Chinese-American population, police officers have had a lion dance troupe for 28 years. The city's Chinese New Year Festival & Parade, billed as the largest in the world, goes back to the 1860s. The 2016 parade, sponsored by Southwest Airlines, will take place on Feb 20.

"To me, the Chinese New Year is almost like Christmas, Thanksgiving and Mardi Gras all rolled into one," Parade Director Harlan Wong told CCTV America. "We pass out lucky money, red envelopes to anybody who is unmarried. And then, like Thanksgiving, we have huge family gatherings. And like Mardi Gras, we celebrate with the biggest Chinese New Year parade in the US."

Perhaps someday the growing camaraderie between China and the US over Lunar New Year could spill into the political arena.

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