Washington starts celebrations of Year of Dog

Liu Kun China Plus Published: 2018-02-12 10:27:21
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Washington starts celebrations of Year of Dog

Minister Counselor, Li Hong (second from the left), of the Chinese Embassy in Washington; Zhong Laizhao, Deputy Director of the Foreign Affairs Office of Chengdu City, Sichuan Province (first from the left); Smithsonian Distinguished Scholar and Ambassador-at-Large, Richard Kurin (second from the right), and Smithsonian American Art Museum Director, Stephanie Stebich (first from the right), present the eye-dotting ritual during the lion awakening ceremony at the Chinese New Year Family Festival held in the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington on February 10th, 2018. [Photo: China Plus/Liu Kun]

As the Chinese New Year approaches, celebrations of this important festival are also embraced in different parts of the world.

As our Washington Correspondent Liu Kun reports, festivities have already started in the US capital.

It was rainy over the past weekend in Washington, but that didn't stop the line of people in front of the Smithsonian American Art Museum from getting any longer. These people were queuing up to participate in the Chinese New Year Family Festival in the Museum.

The fifth of its kind, the Festival was jointly held by the Chinese Embassy in Washington and the Museum.

Artists from Sichuan province and local artists in Washington joined hands and brought on site many forms of traditional Chinese art: the face-changing art of Sichuan Opera, folk dances, acrobatics, paper-cutting, Chinese calligraphy and so on.

Waves of applause and laughter mixed with the sound of music filled the Gallery.

The climax happened when kids and parents applauded and screamed at the batman face showed by Sichuan Opera face-changing artists.

Donald Langhorne is a US federal government officer. He brought his wife and four kids with him to the festival. His two daughters study at Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School, the first public primary school in Washington that provides a Chinese immersion education.

Langhorne said he had a good time at the festival and hopes that there will be more of this kind in Washington so that his children will have more opportunities to learn about China.

"The kids seem to be very engaged and they seem to be enjoying themselves as well. I think next week there will be the parade, the New Year parade. So we are looking forward to participating in the parade this year. We are looking forward to it."

Washington starts celebrations of Year of Dog

American families practice the Chinese art of paper-cutting at the Chinese New Year Family Festival held in the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington on February 10th, 2018. [Photo: China Plus/Liu Kun]

Jessie Austen, a junior studying political science at the University of New Hampshire, is now interning for a US federal agency in Washington.

He said he has always been interested in the Chinese Lunar New Year. He was excited to have discovered an online advertisement for the event in the American Art Museum and decided to check it out.

He spent some time in the calligraphy section at the event and had his Chinese name written by calligraphy artists with Chinese writing brushes, ink and red paper.

"It's really awesome. I unfortunately never got to learn to do Chinese but someone got to show me to do my name. It's very intricate and I love it. It's just so much detail gets put into it. That's just why I appreciate it so much. And I have always been really intrigued by the lunar new year festival because I feel like it's so much energy and everyone is just really excited. I love everything it stands for, welcoming in the new year, all the blessings and good wishes for friends and family."

The Chinese Embassy in Washington, together with local theaters and cultural centers, has already set up a series of programs to bring Chinese puppet shows, folk music concerts and other cultural forms to residents in D.C., all of which will unfold in the coming week.

In that sense, the Chinese New Year family festival in American Art Museum is just a beginning of celebrations of the Year of the Dog in the US capital.

For CRI, this is Liu Kun reporting from Washington.

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