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Lunar New Year celebrations bring together neighbors and families

The lion dance was performed at Asia Institute Crane House's Lunar New Year auction and dinner last year.
Asia Institute Crane House
The lion dance was performed at Asia Institute Crane House's Lunar New Year auction and dinner last year.

Sunday marks the start of the Lunar New Year for several communities in Asia and across the Asian diaspora.

Even though the new year is celebrated differently across the continent, gathering with family and friends is a throughline across cultures.

Celebrations in Louisville will be similar.

The Buddha Blessed Temple is hosting a free celebration on Jan. 22, the first day of the new year.

“We celebrate with our family circle and our communities, and we want to achieve that goal,” Rev. Thich Hang Dat, who established the temple in 2006, said.

Activities will feature performances of the lion and dragon dances, as well as new year blessings and prayers.

Dat said that while the temple will be celebrating by incorporating Buddhist traditions, people from any background are welcome to attend.

He said the new year provides a clean slate.

“We leave everything behind, whether it is good or bad,” Dat said. “Especially if we have encountered difficulties or crises in life last year, we leave them behind so we can start fresh in the new one.”

The Lunar New Year also ushers in a new animal under the Chinese zodiac; Lunar New Year will transition into the year of the rabbit. In the Vietnamese zodiac, it’s the year of the cat.

The myth behind the Chinese zodiac - Megan Campisi and Pen-Pen Chen

The Asia Institute Crane House is hostingits annual Lunar New Year auction and dinnerto celebrate.

“Lunar New Year is equivalent to, I would say, for the American holidays it is like the combination of Thanksgiving, Christmas and new year all at once,” said Joel Buno, executive director of the Asia Institute Crane House.

The event will feature performances from local dancers across backgrounds and food from several award-winning chefs from Asian backgrounds.

According to Buno, combining different foods, performances and traditions from across the continent is an important way to show that while the Asian community may have shared holidays, the culture isn’t monolithic

“A lot of people tend to be pinholed to their one little community or their one little spot in Asia,” Buno said. “I’m from the Philippines and it would be very easy for me to feel that the Philippines is Asia-centric, but that’s not the case.”

Buno said during a time when hate crimes against Asian people continue to take place, it’s important for space to exist for people to celebrate safely.

“It is also great for Louisville to show that we support our local Asian community and that we provide a safe space for people to celebrate their culture or their interest among other community members who feel the same way,” Buno said.

Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.

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