Friday, January 14, 2011

CelebrASIA: 3 Months of New Year’s Festivities For Families

My oh shishi-mai! Photo by George Hirose.

A lively lion dance performance in China, families in Japan making trips to Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, families in Central Asia clamoring pots and pans to drive away evil spirits of the past year, or Persian families creating beautiful altars honoring their ancestors—all provide a glimpse into the rich and festive sights and sounds of New Year’s celebrations in Asia. As countdowns, champagne and cheers reverberate throughout the Western World, many cultures in Asia welcome the New Year calling it by diverse names such as Norouz (Persia), Oshogatsu (Japan), Losar (Himalaya), and Sollal (Korea) with unique and sometimes intriguingly interrelated practices.

This year Asia Society, China Institute, Japan Society, Korea Society and Rubin Museum have come together to bring the joys of celebrating New Year’s across Asia. In the first of hopefully a regular series, CelebrASIA NYC: New Year’s Festivities for Families encompasses six pan Asian events at five esteemed New York City cultural centers.

On Sunday, January 16, Japan Society’s Japan’s New Year’s Day Celebration: Oshogatsu kicks off the series with fun-filled traditional Japanese New Year’s activities, including mochi-tsuki  (rice pounding), shishi-mai (lion dancing accompanied by live taiko drumming), gogaku court music, kakizome (special New Year’s calligraphy), kite-making, fukuwarai (funny-face game), karuta (card matching game) and kamishibai story telling. Children of all ages are invited to participate and activites fill every nook and cranny of the Society's landmark building.

The series continues with Family Day: Korean New Year, Saturday, January 22; Moon over Manhattan, Saturday, January 29; Chinese New Year's Day, Sunday, February 6; Family Day: Himalayan New Year Celebration, Saturday, March 5; and Spring into Norouz, March 12. Full details at

Japan Society's Oshogatsu fest takes place in two sessions at 2pm and 3pm. Tickets are $5 for members, $12 for nonmembers, and free for children under ages 2 or under. More at


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