SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Lunar New Year marks the first new moon of the lunisolar calendars, traditional to many east Asian countries including China, Korea, and Vietnam and regulated by the cycles of the moon and sun. Lunar New Year will be celebrated this year on Friday, Feb. 12 and 2021 is the Year of the Ox.
"On this special day, families gather to celebrate and prepare for the arrival of a new year of good health and prosperity…As we look forward to a joyous New Year, we proudly reflect on the contributions of a culture rich in history and ask our friends and neighbors to join in the celebration…" stated Mayor Matt Anesh, who, during a Feb. 1 South Plainfield Borough Council meeting, issued a proclamation in honor of Lunar New Year and 'urged all citizens to join in the celebration for a prosperous and healthy new year.'
The second animal of the Chinese zodiac, the ox, according to astronomers, denotes the hard work, positivity and honesty that will be manifested in all of us in the coming 12 months.
"… As the door to the Year of the Ox opens, we wish good fortune, health and happiness to all those who celebrate," Anesh stated.
On hand to virtually 'accept' the proclamation were representatives of the South Plainfield-based Buddha's Light International Association - New Jersey Chapter (BLIA-NJ).
"We are very proud to accept this proclamation, and we really appreciate the township's dedication to culture and diversity," said the organization's President Paul Tong.
Yiwen Chiang, an advisor BLIA, added, "On behalf of BLIA, it is our great honor to accept the proclamation from South Plainfield…We are very active members of this community and…look forward to doing more events to share with our neighbor and friends. We are looking forward to a great year together."
"I want to thank BLIA for everything you do for our community and for really being a part of our family," said Councilwoman Christine Faustini, noting that a Lunar New Year message from BLIA will be shared on the borough's social media site on Feb. 12.
"Lunar New Year is the time for family to gather and show love and care for each other. Our library organizes the program for people who love learning about different cultures, as well as for people who celebrate with their families," said Kitty Wang, bilingual library assistant in the children’s department who was in charge of managing the South Plainfield Public Library's 2021 Lunar New Year Celebration.
Almost 100 patrons logged on for the Jan. 29 library-sponsored program, which was presented virtually this year and focused on Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese culture through demonstrations, artwork, poetry, stories, music, and more; it can be viewed online at as well as on the library's Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/163040127090585/posts/3847852721942622/?d=n).
In addition to Lion Dance performances and Kung Fu and Tai Chi demonstrations from students of Cheung's Martial Arts Academy, the program also featured a broadsword demonstration by seven-year-old Jasper Truong; Jasper, who has practiced Wushu – Chinese Martial Arts - for almost two years, won his second broadsword gold medal in the New England International Chinese Martial Arts Championship last December.
The library's online celebration also included piano performances by Yuqiao Lu, William Shi, Tong Deng and Alexis Yan as well as poetry recitation and stories from James Deng, Tong Deng, Tszying Lei, Yuqiao Lu, Geqi Xu, Jason Ng, Yitong Wang, and Alexis Yan. Additionally, the works of Isabella Lu, Jingxi Sun, Alexis Yan, Kathy Sun, and Jason Ng were featured in an online art exhibit, sponsored by Pipa Magazine, and traditional songs were performed by Tszying Lei, Yuqiao Lu, Jason Ng, along with Yaejin Hur, Tong Deng, Eli Kong, Emerie Kong, Domi Ma, Munger Ma, Alexis Yan, Andrew Yan, Diyana Bhagat, Danica Gunawardene and Jason Ng.
"People come here from all over the world looking for a better life and prosperity. They want to be part of the community and show their desire to fit in by sharing their culture with their friends and neighbors. This is the essence of celebrating Lunar New Year," said Wang.
According to the Truong family, whose children took part in library's annual Lunar New Year Celebration, 'Lunar New Year is the most important festival for Chinese families.' Like traditional Christmas celebrations, Lunar New Year typically involves family gatherings, meals, and extending good wishes. It also is a time for kids to extend good wishes to adults in hopes of a good start to the new year. Additionally, adults give children red envelopes called 'Ya sui qian,' which are for passing fortune and good luck to kids in the new year.
"Thank you to the South Plainfield library for giving us a chance to celebrate online. We wish you a happy Lunar New Year! May good luck and health always with you," said the Truong family.
"Chinese New Year is always a time of joy that creates fond memories with several traditions that my family and I follow. It allows our family to spend time together, eat lots of food, try new clothing, and send and receive red envelopes," added Alex Cheung, who performed a Lion Dance and Wushu during the program.
“Although our celebration may have looked a little different this year, we are happy to continue highlighting all the various cultures that make up South Plainfield," added Library Director Linda Hansen. "Ms. Kitty worked very hard to convert what is traditionally a live event for us to an online platform, and did an outstanding job! This year's Lunar New Year event was an extremely informative and fun program for all ages."
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