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Chinese New Year 2024 in New York: parade and history of the holiday

Leonid Rayevsky

journalist, travel guide and guide


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One of the most beloved holidays in China is the Chinese New Year, known as Chunjie (Spring Festival), or Lunar New Year. Judging by its first name, we can assume that the Chinese celebrate the New Year twice: the first time, like the rest of us, on the night of January 1, and the second time (within 15 days) according to the Chinese lunar calendar. That is why its date changes from year to year: in 2024 it was from February 10 to 25. And, according to the second name, the Spring Festival - it corresponds to the holding of carnivals in Europe, that is, farewell to winter, on the eve of the start of spring field work. This is a kind of holiday vacation when you can switch gears, relax and travel before the start of the working year. This is our story about how it went this year.

Here and below is a photo of the author (unless otherwise indicated in the signature)

These days, all houses are usually decorated with traditional scrolls and red lanterns. This tradition is associated with one belief about a ferocious mythical beast named Nian. On the first day of the new year, he attacked villages and villages, destroyed all food supplies, kidnapped and killed people. Then, at the doors of the houses, residents began to leave food for Nanny in the hope that this would please him. But the beast continued to rampage. One day Nian came across a small child in red clothes and, to the surprise of everyone, he was frightened and ran away. Thus, the weak point of the beast was discovered, and the Chinese began to hang red lanterns and scrolls on the windows and doors of their houses for the New Year. To scare away Nanny, there is also the tradition of ending the festive night of the Chinese New Year by launching firecrackers and fireworks.

Each Chinese New Year is associated with one of the twelve animals of the zodiac calendar, including the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake and others. A famous Chinese legend mentions that these animals were chosen by order of the great Jade Emperor, who sent his faithful servant from heaven to earth to fetch them. In addition, each year is assigned one of the five basic elements of the Chinese horoscope: metal, water, wood, fire and earth. All this largely characterizes the upcoming Chinese New Year, which is inextricably linked with a variety of ancient symbols, each of which has its own legend of origin. The symbol of 2024 is the Green Wooden Dragon. The previous time such a patron was in 1964, and in the future he will become a symbol only 60 years later - in 2084. The Green Dragon, or Qinglong as it is called in China, symbolizes power, strength, influence, courage, knowledge, as well as honesty and justice.

Screenshot from Better Chinatown

So, the Chinese New Year parade and festival took place on Sunday, February 25, 2024. The parade started at 13:00 in Manhattan's Chinatown. His route took him along Mott Street to Chatham Square, then along East Broadway to the Manhattan Bridge and ending on Forsyth Street near Grand Street and Sarah D. Roosevelt Park. Similar parades were held in other Chinatowns in the city: Sunset Park in Brooklyn and Flushing in Queens. But this Chinese New Year parade and festival is considered the main one in New York, and this year it turned 26 years old. More than 80 groups and about 25 mobile platforms took part in it.

The opening of the parade is carried out by the city police services. Here, at the head of the procession, mounted police ride in their blue helmets.

Behind them march other law enforcement units, including the department that directly works with immigrants from Asia.

This is their orchestra, and next to it the mounted police seem to frame it.

And here is the main person at the parade - its Grand Marshal.

But the main attraction of this year's parade is the Dragon. In Chinese culture, this mythical animal symbolizes power, nobility, honor, luck and success. It is believed that almost the best times always pass under the auspices of the Dragon. Thus, you should expect good things from 2024: pleasant changes, meetings, solutions to many problems. To attract good luck into your life, you can try to appease the symbol of the year.

Therefore, a model of a dragon with a huge head and a long body and tail is fixed on poles, which are held by assistants who try to carry it over the heads of people standing along the road. Then luck will be with them. This year's parade featured dragon puppets that were up to 65 feet (20 meters) long in interconnected segments that held 11 people walking underneath them.

Here in front of us is the famous “passage with a turn.” To “revive” a Dragon up to 30 meters long, you have to make significant efforts, because it is believed that the longer its body, the more happiness it will bring. This amazing dance requires special skills, synchronicity and mastery.

Small lions are also an obligatory attribute of parades. Sometimes one person copes with this role. But most often - two in one body.

Columns of many Chinese organizations move - on foot or on specially equipped platforms.

And between them move the retro cars participating in the parade.

But there is one more feature in major Chinese holidays - the obligatory presence of drums, which were considered magical weapons in ancient China. The beautiful sound of war drums was necessary to raise the morale of the army from a distance. They began to be used in China around 6000 BC. e. In ancient times, the drum was used not only during sacrifices and musical accompaniment of various ceremonies, but also to bait the beast, notify the time and announce decrees. In the process of social development, the scope of its application has expanded. Now it is widely used to perform melodies of orchestras of national instruments, ensembles, and also as musical accompaniment: in opera, on the stage, to accompany dance numbers. Here, too, the orchestra marches in front of us.

Red is the color of joy and happiness. That is why their clothes and drums are red.

Then there are various dance and gymnastic performances. The crowning number is the dance with fans.

While they are dancing, a short excursion into history.

In the second half of the 1887th century, this area was settled by Jewish emigrants from Eastern Europe. And in XNUMX, one of the oldest synagogues in Manhattan, the Eldridge St. Synagogue, which is now a museum complex, was built here in the Moorish style. For various reasons, already at the beginning of the next century, Jews from these places began to move to other areas of the city, with better living conditions. And this area began to be settled by the Chinese, and eventually turned into modern Chinatown.

And now the Chinese parade route passes right past the doors of the old synagogue.

Now it is the real center of the Chinese region. In front of us is a monument to Confucius, and behind it we see the New York City Hall.

But now everyone was clinging to the barriers. The final dance of the parade will now be performed.

All. Hats are off. The holiday is over. All that was left was confetti on the sidewalks. And these tubes are Chinese confetti crackers.

By the way, to wish each other a Happy New Year in Chinese, you need to say “Xin Nian Hao!” See you next time in the New Year!

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