Chinese New Yorkers Ring in the Year of the Pig

For the 20th year,  celebrations for the Lunar New Year, a tradition brought to the United States by immigrants not only from China, but also from other Asian countries, took place Tuesday with Chinese-Americans heralding the arrival of the Year of the Pig with song, dance, and firecrackers.

The celebration in Sara D. Roosevelt Park, organized by the Better Chinatown Society, on Tuesday featured traditional dances, a Chinese opera number, and musical performances by high school students. But it wasn’t the only one in the city:  Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn each claim their own Chinatown and similar celebrations took place on Tuesday in Flushing, Queens, and Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

Over 500,000 Chinese Americans call New York City home, making it the city with the largest Chinese population outside of Asia.

A tai chi demonstration was on the program, as well as a showcase of traditional Chinese costumes.

“We are proud of our assimilation into American society, and our cooperation with other ethnic groups,” said Steven Tin, leader of the Better Chinatown Society, before the firecracker ceremony.

In Chinese tradition, setting off firecrackers on New Year is believed to scare away evil spirits.

Dignitaries on the dais included a representative from the Chinese embassy, and Margaret Chin and Carlina Rivera, who represent Lower Manhattan in the New York City Council. Both Chin and Rivera grew up in the Chinatown neighborhood. Rivera pointed out in her remarks that she was born in the Year of the Pig.

The city government declared Tuesday a school holiday to allow Chinese students to celebrate the Lunar New Year with their families.

The Lunar New Year Parade and Festival, also organized by the Better Chinatown Society, will take place on Sunday, February 17.