People attend Lunar New Year celebrationThe atmosphere was festive for the 2024 Lunar New Year celebration Jan. 15 at Town Hall. / Crystal Lin photo

UPDATED March 5: Some 250 people, including volunteers and local residents, recently attended the town of Arlington's second annual Lunar NewYear celebration, a bit in advance of the holiday itself, which is widely observed in East Asian nations and also by many Asian Americans.

Activities at the event, held Jan. 25 at Town Hall, initially were focused on arts and crafts, while the second hour consisted of a variety of music and dance performances.

The arts-and-crafts portion was designed to let the public engage in traditional crafts of different such cultures as Korean, Chinese and Vietnamese, organizers said. Activity stations representative of each culture were run by volunteers, who demonstrated and taught skills to the participants. This interactive process was a new part of the event this year, said Teresa Marzilli, outreach and engagement coordinator for the town's Department of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The program was supported in part by a grant from the Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture, a local agency which is supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency.

Lunar New Year itself is Saturday, Feb. 10. The Old Farmers' Almanac explains how lunar calendars determine the dates of their holidays, and it also notes, "Due to the difference in time zones, the new moon may technically occur one calendar date earlier or later in the United States [compared with East Asia]."

'Sharing the joy'

According to Yuchuan Guo, a volunteer at the event and a longtime craft-making enthusiast, “I love sharing the joy of making traditional Chinese arts and crafts. I didn’t know about the [town-sponsored public] event last year, and, this year, a friend told me that volunteers are needed at the arts and crafts stations to celebrate the Lunar New Year, so I said I’d love to help.”

The vision of the Lunar New Year event was to “create a space for belongingness,” said Marzilli. It had the goal of “creating spaces where we’re uplifting and centering on communities that may not have [previously had] that experience in the past in the town government, and I feel like the Lunar New Year celebration was an important example of that work,” Marzilli emphasized.

Since last year’s inaugural event, insights had been gained and implemented to improve on this year's celebration. According to Marzilli, “In the first year, we learned a lot of humbling lessons about what Lunar New Year means to the different cultures that celebrate it and how to really create an inclusive experience.”

With this in mind, the organizers aim to keep expanding and to inviting more and more people to coordinate and to be part of the celebration. “Any residents who want to be involved can be involved. Hopefully, the message continues to get out there,” said Marzilli.

Performers included local students

The second hour of the celebration featured 16 live performances, by adult town residents, Ottoson Middle School students and Arlington High School students, including the following:

Chinese poem recital: “Goodbye to Cambridge --On Leaving Cambridge”

Instrumental ensemble: “Deep Night”

Dance: “Northeast Yangko”

Flute solo: “Harvest”

Mongolian chopstick dance: “Horse Harness”

Erhu solo: “SunanXiaoqu”

Tibetan dance: “Get Together”

Peking opera singing: “The Matchmaker”

Northeastern Yangko dance: “Watching the Opera”

Peking opera: “Plum Blossom Ode”

Suona solo: “Liu Laogen Grand Stage Prelude”

Singing: “Lunar New Year Around the World”

Dance: “The One I Love is in Xinjiang”

Banhu solo: Excerpts from “The White-Haired Girl”

Jinghu solo: “Welcoming the Spring”

Ladies' solo singing and dancing: “Holiday Ode”

 Jan. 13, 2024: Lunar New Year celebrated at Town Hall

This text and photo by YourArlington freelance writer Crystal Lin, a sophomore at Boston University, was published Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024. It was updated Tuesday, March 5, to denote two organizations who supported the event.