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Chinese New Year celebrated across Long Island

Dancers from the Asian United Sports Club perform

Dancers from the Asian United Sports Club perform the Dragon Dance at the 2016 Chinese New Year celebration at Planting Fields in Oyster Bay. Photo Credit: Jiawei Ming

It’s the most wonderful time . . . of the Lunar New Year.

Chinese New Year — a period marked by reflection and joy — and the most important holiday in Asia is on Saturday, Jan. 28. According to the Chinese 12-year animal zodiac cycle, 2017 is the Year of the Rooster. Each zodiac year is associated with an animal sign.

“A year of the rooster always comes after a monkey year and before a dog year,” says Jinyoung Jin, director of cultural programs at the Charles B. Wang Center in Stony Brook. “People born in the year of the rooster are believed to be observant, hardworking, resourceful, courageous, talented and confident in themselves.”

Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the Chinese New Year vary widely, according to Jin.

“Often, the evening preceding Chinese New Year’s Day is an occasion for Chinese families to gather for the annual reunion dinner,” Jin says.

Also known in China as Spring Festival, traditional Chinese New Year celebrations include eating a reunion dinner with family, the gifting of red envelopes to children as an act of giving good luck, lighting firecrackers, and decorations where red features prominently. The color red is regarded as a symbol of energy, good luck and happiness — popular themes associated with the holiday.

It is also traditional for families to thoroughly clean their homes in order to sweep away any ill fortune and to make way for good incoming luck, Jin says.

Across Long Island, dance groups and restaurants are celebrating with musical performances and indigenous food.

CULTURAL PERFORMANCES

The Planting Fields Foundation hosts its second annual Chinese New Year celebration at Coe Hall. In keeping with Chinese tradition, the rooms in the mansion will be decorated with a few hundred red lanterns. Red envelopes carrying tokens will also be distributed to children.

“The red paper wrapping signifies a hope that happiness and fortune will come to the children,” says Jennifer Lavella, director of marketing and events.

Coe Hall will be furnished with fruits and flowers traditionally associated with Chinese New Year celebrations, including oranges, which look like the sun and therefore symbolize happiness, Lavella says.

Orchids, which are believed by the Chinese to represent nobility, friendship, and refinement, and red peonies also will be in view on the grounds, as will fine-blue-and-white Chinese ceramic vases.

WHEN | WHERE 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28. 1395 Planting Fields Rd., Oyster Bay

INFO 516-922-8678, plantingfields.org

ADMISSION $12 (free younger than 12)

FAMILY ACTIVITIES

The Charles B. Wang Center’s annual festival featuring dance performances and a dinner hosted by the Confucius Institute is sold out for Feb. 4, but you can still take part in family activities celebrating Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese culture. There’ll be calligraphy demonstrations, origami folding and fortune pouch and kite-making craft activities 2-4 p.m. in the theater’s lobby.

WHEN | WHERE 2-4 p.m. Feb. 4. Stony Brook University’s Wang Center, Nicolls Road, Stony Brook

INFO 631-632-4400, stonybrook.edu/wang

COST $5, children younger than 12 free

AT THE RESTAURANTS

There’ll be ample opportunities to see the traditional lion dance — a staple of Lunar New Year celebrations — performed by groups from Long Island.

Tommy Tan, owner of Orient Odyssey in Jericho, will have lion dance performers from Hoi Fa Siu Lum Kung Fu at his restaurant at 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 28-29 and Feb. 4.

The 9-foot-long lion dance costume is operated by several people mimicking the animal’s movements. According to Tan, the dance is used to ward off bad luck. It is commonplace to give the lion red envelopes with money inside during the dance. The lion, in turn, blesses patrons by spewing lettuce into the audience.

Students from Ten Tigers Kung Fu Academy in Huntington have a packed lineup of performances, including 6:15 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, and Friday, Feb. 3, at New Peninsula Asian Bistro Restaurant, 55 W. Main St. in Bay Shore. For the group’s full lion dance schedule, visit ten-tigers.com.

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