Chinatown rings in Lunar New Year

By Mary “Molly” Finn

 

On a bright and crisp morning, the greater Chinatown community gathered in Philips Square to begin the Year of the Horse with good fortune and luck on Feb. 9. Several local leaders and community sponsors greeted the crowd in Chinese and English for a productive new year and appreciation for the traditional performances.

Gund Kwok's female performers put on a dragon dance on Feb. 9 at Chinatown's Chinese New Year Festival. (Image courtesy of Mary “Molly” Finn.)

Gund Kwok’s female performers put on a dragon dance on Feb. 9 at Chinatown’s Chinese New Year Festival. (Image courtesy of Mary “Molly” Finn.)

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh pledged to work with his council to make sure long-term residents can stay in Chinatown.

Boston District 2 city councilor Bill Linehan thanked Chinatown families, residents of District 2, for their support. Linehan said the Year of the Horse is symbolic for him because he has been called a “cowboy.” Linehan hoped the next year embodied the strong and energetic qualities of a horse, full of prosperity.

Michelle Wu, the first Asian female Boston city councilor-at-large wished the crowd a happy new year. Malden Mayor Gary Christenson, captured the crowd’s attention as he read his speech, composed entirely in Mandarin. And Lisa Wong, mayor of Fitchburg, reminded people that the most important thing is family. She asked for help wishing her grandmother, a late Chinatown resident, “Gong hei fat choi!” or good luck and prosperity.

The dances were full of color and energy as the lions jumped around the stage. Ultimately a lion tossed an orange, a symbol of prosperity, to a lucky young member in the crowd. Of the six acts, one featured Gund Kwok, the first all-women’s lion dance club, taking the stage with two bright yellow lions and their tamer. Recently recognized on NPR, Gund Kwok has expanded the Chinese tradition of martial arts here in Boston from a historically male-dominated sport.

Phuni Meston held her younger daughter and swayed to the beat of the drum to keep warm as the lion dancers performed. This is her younger daughter’s second Chinese New Year celebration. Her husband, Eddy, studied kung fu for more than two decades at the White Crane School, formally known as Woo Ching’s Bak Hok Pai, which performed at the event.

Meston said it was “so important to expose my daughters to kung fu to find balance in life and maintain a cultural connection” to their heritage. Having grown up in Taiwan, she saw much political strife; meanwhile, cultural traditions, dance and celebrations sustained the people throughout the years.

The cultural performances celebrated Chinese New Year, which officially began Jan. 31.

 

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