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Lunar New Year

Celebrating the Year of the Rabbit, with dances and stories from Asia and the Pacific islands

on January 31, 2023

In the spirit of unity, Alameda County has been hosting a Lunar New Year celebration for 15 years. Monday’s program at Lincoln Hall — the first one in person since the pandemic lockdown in 2020 — included five traditional performances reflecting the Bay Area’s diverse Asian communities. 

The audience of about 400 mostly was made up of children from eight schools, while students from nine other schools participated online. 

“We come from different languages and cultures, but we all share a common planet,” said Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson, who hosted the event, along with Alameda County and the Asian Pacific Islander Community Collaborative.

“It is especially important to have young children involved because as they grow up, they’ll embrace their identity and culture,” he added. “They’ll be proud of who they are.”

Lunar New Year
Blue Sky group performs “Magnanimous Grace,” a dance that highlights Mongolian women’s inner strength, love and wisdom/ (Simmerdeep Kaur)

The Lunar New Year is an important holiday for billions of people across the globe. It marks the beginning of a fresh year on the lunisolar calendar and celebrates the arrival of spring. According to Chinese astrology, 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit, symbolizing longevity, prosperity and peace, marking 2023 as a year of hope. 

“We are happy to be a part of the community and show the young generation our culture,” said Altanzaya Batchuluun, a member of the Blue Sky Dance Group, which showcased the Mongolian dance “Magnanimous Grace.” The dance honors Mongolian women who took care of their whole community during wartime. 

Lunar New Year
The Parangal Dance Co. performs a dance from the Philippines during a Lunar New Year celebration at Lincoln Recreation Center. (Simmerdeep Kaur)

The Parangal Dance Co., based in San Francisco, represented the cultures of the Philippines, with a mythical bird at the center of one dance and a waltz at the heart of another.

The children also were thrilled to see the Lion Dance and Kung Fu Exhibition, as the artists engaged with the audience during their acts. The dance, performed by the Toishan Benevolent Association, is a way to welcome prosperous times. 

“It’s always great to see the dances and the music and kids really enjoying it,” said Richard Burgess, a teacher at Castroville Elementary School. “Especially since the pandemic, I know they wanted to get out, and it was good to get them out of the classroom.” 

Other performances included a Korean traditional dance by Me Sook Ko, which has been bringing Korean traditional arts to the Bay Area for 25 years, and the Korean Senior Center choir, which sang the Korean folk song “Arirang,” said to be more than 600 years old. 

Lunar New Year
Me Sook Ko performs a Korean traditional dance during a Lunar New Year celebration for school children at Lincoln Recreation Center. (Simmerdeep Kaur)

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