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US cities kick off Lunar New Year celebrations

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Multiple cities across the U.S. have gone ahead with Lunar New Year celebrations over the weekend, calling for luck as they usher in the Year of the Wood Dragon.

Where it happened: The Lunar New Year does not officially arrive until Feb. 10, but events have already kicked off in various locations in New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Honolulu, to name a few. More cities are expected to follow through as the date approaches.

How it happened: The events featured various performances and activities for the local communities. In Honolulu’s Chinatown, a parade showcased dragons, lion dancing, festival queens, martial artists and other special appearances, while a gala at the Pittsburgh Playhouse treated audiences to food, drinks and a Chinese art exhibit ahead of a performance.

Museums such as the Met and the Buffalo History Museum in New York and the Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art in Washington, D.C., also welcomed the Lunar New Year with activities and performances for community members. In San Francisco, a flower market fair bloomed to bring food, home goods, performances and, of course, flowers, which symbolize prosperity.

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Why this matters: The Lunar New Year is a time of the year that brings together Asian American communities in celebration of tradition, culture and optimism for life. Additionally, these gatherings allow for the raising of awareness on various issues that involve them.

In Seattle, the celebration was held outside the Chinatown International District’s Wing Luke Museum, which fell victim to a sledgehammer attack in September.

“Whatever hatred, whatever evil that was down on that side,” Han Eckelberg, an instructor with Mak Fai Kung Fu Dragon & Lion Dance Association, which performed at the event, told KING 5. “We’re chasing all that away. Not only a testament to the ongoing battles that we go through as Asian Americans. But really the testament to how strong our culture is and unifying altogether.”

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Meanwhile, Asian and Black communities jointly celebrated the Lunar New Year and Black History Month in Oakland, California. The event, which took place at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center, highlighted solidarity between the communities.

What’s next: More celebrations will take place in the coming days. Boston, led by its first Asian American mayor, Michelle Wu, has also launched a flower market, followed by events in various locations that will culminate in a lion dance parade on Feb. 18.

Multiple events are also happening across Las Vegas, coinciding with the Super Bowl on Feb. 11. Houston will hold the Texas Lunar Festival on Feb. 10.

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