Series of Workshops to Welcome Chinese New Year

Peaches, golden fish, and lanterns all symbolize good luck for the Chinese New Year. 

The best time to welcome spring and receive blessings is this time of year, also known as “suizhao.” Chinese New Year will be held this year on Feb.16.

The Elting Memorial Library in New Paltz, has a collection of workshops throughout the month featuring: paper-cutting, paper-folding, calligraphy, kite construction and jiaozi (dumpling) making. 

Linda Welles, president of the board of trustees and Deborah Engel-Dimauro of the library staff helped organize the activities for the celebration. The library has ran an annual cultural event for the past 10 years. This is the third time they are participating in a Chinese New Year celebration. 

The first workshop of the Chinese New Year Celebration displayed multi colored prints and lettering this past Saturday. Professors Kristine Harris and Shanshan Li shared the traditional meanings of contemporary art. Harris and Li educated the community with examples of Chinese paintings from traditional watercolor to modern day vibrant works. The symbols of giant peaches in the colorful works of art are a symbol of longevity. Images of children are a popular theme in the art representing fertility to carry on a lineage for the new year.

“Visual puns are built into popular works of art,” said Harris. 

Multi colored prints featured the traditional Chinese couplet, illustrated on red paper with black and gold lettering. The couplet can be hung on doors and windows to wish good spirits. Even numbers are lucky for the Lunar New Year so hanging up a pair is recommended. 

The story of the monster “nian” is why firecrackers are displayed in paintings and drawings for the Lunar New Year. Setting off firecrackers would keep away the monster and the bad spirits in their tradition. 

The meaning behind the lantern is for welcoming the birth of children. Photos of farmers and workers in fields represent a hope for a surplus of agricultural production and the celebration of harvest.

Professors from SUNY New Paltz including Melissa Rock will share her expertise for the new year on Feb.5.  The library will be making baozi (steamed buns) to share the culture across a group of people. Sweet and savory options will be available as well. 

“The mission of the library is to educate the community and live our world with the richness of cultures. Recognizing similarities of all people and differences with diversity is what brings curiosity,” said Welles.

Tai chi, a dumpling workshop, and a dance performance will be open to the public. The last of the celebrations will be held on Sunday, Feb.11 at 4:30 p.m., where paper lanterns will fly up and wish good luck.