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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

New Year Explodes in Chinatown

Happy New Year!
Kevin Kroner
Happy New Year!

Fireworks snapped, crackled, and popped in the streets, bringing the heart of the Chinese New Year into the hearts of Bostonians.

The Chinatown festival, featuring over 14 traditional dragons, accompanied by drummers, dancers, and masked-performers donned in black, red, and yellow attire, was the highlight of a gorgeous Sunday afternoon. Traditional, custom-made dragons stomped through the streets, stopping at restaurants and shops along the way. Spectators smiled, whistled, and cheered in delight. Many children stood on the shoulders of their fathers and mothers to see the sights, and giggled at the historical, traditional, and visual splendor that took place all around them.

The Chinese New Year, which generally falls between the middle of January and the middle of February, is based on the movements of the moon. Each full cycle is 60 years, which is broken down into 5 sections, 12 years each. Each year is marked by a new animal. Legend has it that Buddha, before departing from Earth, summoned all the animals of the world to bid him farewell, and only 12 showed up. These 12 animals were the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, roster, dog, and bore. This year marks the anniversary of the rooster.

Other Chinese New Year traditions include the passing of little red envelops from elders to young people. These envelopes, which bring good luck, are filled with dollars that are crisp and new. Some children find themselves hitting the jackpot with these tiny surprises. But for every young person that receives an envelope, there is a dragon to feed the envelopes to.

Dragons, like the one in the picture, are richly decorated with vibrant colors and alluring fabrics. Feeding these dragons is not just a cute past-time. Dragons are considered a true icon of the people. They are thought to be the strongest of all God’s creatures-the royalty of the animal kingdom. These creatures ward off evil spirits and bad omens. They erase the troubles and fears of the previous year, while bringing good luck and prosperity to those who feed it. Swarms of people approach these dragons with little red envelops, hoping to tap into their magic.

Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese people around the world participate in these fascinating traditions. Though the street celebration lasts only a day, people continue to celebrate in their homes for several weeks. For these people, the New Year is a time for family and friends, good food and laughs; but most importantly, it is a time of hope and luck. Events and activities of this endearing tradition foreshadow the year to come: the prosperity and fortune of individuals, families, and even businesses is thought to be a reflection of this holiday.

Police were forced to close off several streets, as the crowd grew from a few dozen to several hundred. Tourists and pedestrians visiting the Boston area suddenly felt as if they had moved to a foreign land, as every nook and cranny of Chinatown exploded with celebration.