MD AALEADers Celebrate Lunar New Year

By Keo Xiong, MD Middle School Program Coordinator
Photos courtesy of AALEAD staff and youth

Happy Lunar New Year and year of the sheep, according to the Chinese zodiac!

[Image courtesy of]

This past Saturday, Rockville’s Asian Pacific American Task Force hosted the City of Rockville’s Lunar New Year Celebration at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre at Rockville Civic Center Park. Lunar New Year, which is celebrated by various Asian countries and cultures, follows the traditional Chinese calendar as coordinated by the cycles of the moon. Twenty-two Maryland middle and high school youth attended the celebration, in addition to many community members and city officials, where they watched performances by groups of different Asian cultures and backgrounds, ate some great food, and learned many new things in the process.

The performances represented a range of Asian cultures, including cultures of AALEAD youth. A traditional Filipino dance, called tinikling, wowed the audience as the performers danced over and between two moving bamboo poles. Their footwork and coordination was very impressive! AALEADers who didn’t already know about tinikling learned that the dance and its name imitates and references the movements of tikling birds as the birds step through grass, sticks, and water to avoid traps.

Other performances included Korean drumming, Iranian dancing, Chinese Opera, Filipino singing, and a Chinese lion dance, among others. Many of these performances were done by young people, which impressed AALEAD youth. As young people themselves, some AALEADers commented that it was inspiring to see other young people practice and keep alive traditional cultural dances and performances so many countries and years apart from where and when these dances originated. They especially enjoyed seeing their cultures represented on stage.

We hope that more people will learn about and join in on Lunar New Year celebrations throughout the country and in their communities. Each year, cities and counties across the United States host Lunar New Year celebrations throughout the month of February. Next year, be sure to check your local community calendars to see when a celebration is happening in your area, then go out and participate in the festivities.

To find out more about how Lunar New Year is celebrated in different Asian countries, read this blog.

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