Ushering in the Year of the Dragon with a record-breaking crowd

February 7, 2024
The Korean Fan Dance features dancers flourishing large, colorful fans and sweeping movements to create patterns meant to evoke images from nature. Photo by Sofie Pattaropong

By Parents Diversity Council

Lunar New Year starts on Saturday, Feb. 10, but Bedford is officially festive and ready for the new year to begin! 

More than 200 people gathered at Lane School on Saturday, Jan. 27 to celebrate the Lunar New Year. The event was hosted once again by the Parents Diversity Council and the Bedford Free Public Library. Last year’s event drew a large crowd of approximately 100 at the library, so the hosts moved the event to the Lane School to provide more space for guests and to enable the inclusion of performances in the day’s events. 

Lunar New Year celebrates the beginning of the new year based on the lunisolar calendar. It is celebrated by many east Asian countries including China, Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore. Many of these Asian cultures believe each year represents one of 12 zodiac animals, and 2024 is the Year of the Dragon. 

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Some festivities begin days before New Year’s Day while other cultures continue celebrations for days after. Different cultures have different traditions, but many of them focus on celebrating family and food, and wishing for luck and prosperity in the new year.

As guests filed into the Lane School cafeteria, they were able to take part in a variety of crafts, themed around dragons, to honor the start of the Year of the Dragon. All the crafts were curated and organized by parent volunteers from Bedford, who were joined by volunteers from the Bedford High School Asian-American Club and Korean Club to staff the tables during the event.

Crafts included making clothespin dragons and dragon parade puppets. Another table showcased crafts and games commonly played by families in Korea celebrating the New Year. The two games were Jegichagi (kicking a jegi to keep it in the air, which is a type of shuttlecock with paper streamers wrapped around a coin) and Ddakji chigi (tossing folded paper squares and trying to flip your opponent’s square). Children could also color Korean fans and were able to color their ddakji squares while volunteers transcribed their names in Korean on them.

The performances began with two dances from the Boston Korean Traditional Dance Academy that had the audience of children and adults spellbound. 

The Jia siblings perform classical Chinese music during the Lunar New Year celebration at the Lane School. Photo by Nicole Monk

First up was the Janggo Drum Dance – a traditional folk dance where dancers in traditional hanbok dresses play an hourglass shaped drum as they spin around the floor. This was followed by the Fan Dance where dancers twirled around the floor flourishing large, colorful fans and sweeping movements to create patterns meant to evoke images from nature. 

The day’s second act was an encore performance from 2023. The Jia siblings perform classical Chinese music on traditional instruments and are all students at JGMS. Kangbin (8th grade) played the dizi, a Chinese flute with six finger holes that has been played for thousands of years. Karen (6th grade) played the liuqin, a four-stringed mandolin that is pear-shaped and played with a pick. Finally, Kalie (6th grade) played the guzheng – a type of zither with 21 strings played by wearing picks on every finger.

This year, they played three songs:

  • 沧海一声笑: Laughter of the Vast Sea, from the TV Show “The Swordsman”
  • 美丽的壮锦: a traditional folk song that comes from an ethnicity called the Zhuang people. (China has 56 different ethnicities in total.)
  • 花好月圆: an ensemble played during festivals at Lunar New Year

Yan Zhang, mother of the Jia siblings, said, “I am glad that our kids have opportunities to see other cultures and share their own culture.”

Lunar New Year Celebrations have long been a part of the Bedford Free Public Library, predating Murphy – the famous library turtle. Nicole Monk, Head of Children’s Services, is happy to see it has outgrown the library as it means more families are gathering to learn and celebrate together. 

Parent and BHS student volunteers at the Lunar New Year celebration at the Lane School. Photo by Andie Ryoo

Missed the event but looking to learn more? There are Lunar New Year books on display in the children’s room of the library.

Looking for more events to celebrate the Year of the Dragon? Check out this list put together by the Boston Calendar. 

The Parents Diversity Council thanks everyone who came out to celebrate and learn. They also wish everyone prosperity and good luck in the New Year!

These two girls join in the dancing during the Lunar New Year celebration. Photo by Nicole Monk
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