The Lunar New Year for 4713, or the Year of the Ram, was celebrated in San Rafael with a banquet hosted by the Vietnamese community Saturday, Feb. 28 at the San Rafael Community Center on B Street.
The Marin Chinese Cultural Association held a banquet at the community center on Sunday, March 1.
The Vietnamese New Year (Xuam Que Huong) and Chinese New Year celebrations can be held for one dayday or last for an entire week. People on the streets make loud noises, using firecrackers, drums, bells and gongs, to ward off evil spirits.
The celebration becomes a parade, which includes people wearing different masks and dancers who take the form of the ‘Mua Lan’ or Lion Dancing.
The ‘Lan’ is figure that represents an animal somewhat like a cross between a lion and a dragon, a symbol of strength in Asian cultures that is used to scare away evil spirits.
After the parade, families and friends come together for a traditional feast and to share the happiness and joy of the New Year. This is a time when elders hand out red envelopes with money to the children for good luck in exchange for Têt greetings.
During the Vietnamese Banquet, the Chinese association’s Lion Dance Team performed the Lion Dance.
During the banquet on Sunday, Ricci Wu, a local music student studying in the College of Marin, gave a cello performance. Scott Jensen from 10,000 Victories Kung Fu School performed a martial arts and Kung Fu demonstration.
Colorfully dressed female dancers of various ages from the Chinese Dance School and Theatre, based in San Francisco, performed ethnic dances from China, including dances from the Han, Mongolian, Dai, Tibetan, and Uyghur.
The Chinese Cultural Association’s banquet ended with a Raffle Drawing to benefit the group’s Educational Fund, and the distribution of the Hong Bao (red envelopes) to the children.