Cantonese restaurant

Sunday sees two Lunar New Year celebrations, old traditions amplified with new symbolism

The Greater Boston Chinese/Lunar New Year Rolling Car Parade is coming to Malden in 2021. (Photo: Rolling Car Parade)

Although the Lunar New Year began on February 1, its celebration takes place in Cambridge on Sunday with a small street fair in Harvard Square and a parade of cars from Boston that will stop at City Hall. Both are free public events.

For those who have disappeared during the pandemic, the Chinese New Year celebrations led in Harvard Square by the Hong Kong Restaurant and the Harvard Square Business Association is not that – and it is not just a New Year’s celebration. of the Chinese people’s tiger.

Instead, Sunday’s celebration is led by the Chinese American Association of Cambridge, which formed during the pandemic to organize against a wave of anti-Asian hate crimes, and partners with the Chinese American Heritage Foundation and the Chinese American Citizens Alliance Boston. The events are “to help the community better understand Asian culture, not just Chinese culture,” said Zhiqiang Fang, president of the local group.

“It’s not just a celebration of Chinese New Year. We deliberately use the term Lunar New Year because other Asian countries celebrate Lunar New Year – Vietnam, Malaysia, Korea and others,” he said. said Wilson Lee, another organizer of the event.The holiday is celebrated by more than 1.5 billion people under different names.

Pan-Asian and African-American

The Harvard Square street festival will include a lion dance, chanting, dancing and demonstrations of kung fu, brush calligraphy and traditional Chinese painting, Fang said, followed by the lion dance team giving blessings to certain businesses. He called the festivities a continuation of the group’s work to “bring Asian culture to the community,” which included donations of money, books and ceremonial red lanterns to schools such as Peabody and MLK, he said. -he declares.

Immediately prior to the street festival is Greater Boston’s 2nd Annual Chinese/Lunar New Year Rolling Car Parade – a 2021 innovation, when the Lunar New Year Lion Dance taking place in Chinatown was canceled.

“Everyone was depressed, because we were in the middle of the pandemic. We couldn’t get out. We wanted to celebrate in a festive way, but also to be safe,” said Wilson Lee, a car parade organizer who has been involved in community service in the Chinese-American community for nearly 50 years, including serving as president of the August Moon Festival and President. of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, responsible for the Chinatown New Year’s Lion Dance. “We got a lot of positive feedback, and some of the communities we didn’t get a chance to go to asked us, ‘Are you going to do this next year? Can you make it a tradition? »

To avoid disrupting Chinatown celebrations, which returned this year, organizers timed the parade two weeks later.

Come to the town hall

Sunday’s parade begins at 1 p.m. from Chinatown Gate in Boston and passes through a dozen Greater Boston communities – five more than last year – including Cambridge, Somerville and Arlington as well as Belmont, Winchester, Lexington, Malden, Waltham , Newton, Brookline, Dorchester and Quincy. (There is a rain or snow date of March 6.) He is expected to arrive at Cambridge City Hall around 1:30 to 1:45 p.m. and be greeted by Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui. A table will be set up to hand out fortune cookies, lucky candies and oranges to spread the holiday spirit, and there will be a lion dance performance, organizers said.

Vanessa Guo, the new Chinese Miss Boston, is expected to attend, but the parade marshal is Enoch “Woody” Woodhouse II, a Hudson resident who is a Congressional Gold Medal recipient as one of the Tuskegee Airmen World War II survivors, Lee mentioned.

“Feb. 1 was the official start of our Lunar New Year. It’s also the start of Black History Month,” Lee said. part of the American mainstream. What better way to show our patriotism and love for this country? (Last year the parade marshal was Leading Seaman Tony Moy, another World War II veteran and recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal.)

From Chinatown outwards

The route that Woodhouse, Guo and the rest of the parade walk is no accident, Lee said, but is steeped in symbolism just as much.

Early Chinese immigrants settled in Chinatown due to immigration restrictions such as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and Foreign Lands Acts, which prevented them from owning property. The laws were repealed in 1943 when China became a wartime ally, allowing an expansion of Asian Americans into the suburbs. “If you look at the parade route, it’s kind of like a story of our community, stretching outward. That’s why we go from Chinatown to Malden in the western suburbs and then to Quincy,” Lee said. “We hope to grow it every year.”

The first immigrants were Han Chinese, who speak Cantonese, followed by Mandarin speakers. “One of the things we hope to do with the parade is to connect the traditionally Cantonese community in Chinatown with the Mandarin community in the suburbs,” Lee said.

Lunar New Year in Harvard Square

As the parade of cars leaves Cambridge City Hall, the celebration from Harvard Square to Brattle Plaza is expected to begin around 2 p.m., Fang said.

The Harvard Square Business Association highlighted various other ways to celebrate Lunar New Year, including highlighting area Asian restaurants to eat at. The newest, Wusong Road, offers roast duck which must be ordered a day in advance and is limited to 50 per week.

The association’s website quoted Hong Kong Restaurant’s Paul Lee as saying he hoped to bring back the restaurant’s Chinese New Year festivities in 2023 – although Fang said his own conversations with Paul Lee raised the possibility that Hong Kong can celebrate again this year. .FacebookTwittermail