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Spring blooms across globe

From dazzling parades to cultural events, countries gear up to celebrate Chinese New Year. Minlu Zhang in New York, Zheng Wanyin in London, Yang Wanli in Bangkok and Xu Weiwei in Hong Kong report.

By Minlu Zhang,Zheng Wanyin,Yang Wanli and Xu Weiwei | China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-09 07:52

The United Nations Postal Administration officially brings out special stamps on Jan 19 to celebrate the Year of the Dragon. WANG FAN/CHINA NEWS SERVICE

Celebrations of the Lunar New Year are in full swing worldwide as China's traditional Spring Festival holiday draws growing, enthusiastic attention across the globe.

From North America to Europe and Asia, the Lunar New Year welcomes the Year of the Dragon with vibrant festivities worldwide.

Chinese New Year 2024 falls on Saturday, Feb 10. The date changes every year but is always somewhere between Jan 21 and Feb 20.

2024 is the Year of the Dragon, based on the Chinese zodiac. The dragon is perceived by the Chinese people to represent dignity, prestige, and auspiciousness.

China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism has unveiled a mascot, dubbed "Jixiang Long", literally lucky dragon, featuring a gesture of welcome and a smiley face, auspicious cloud ears, and a gold ingot-shaped nose.

"The divine animal is an inseparable part of the Chinese civilization and is an important spiritual symbol of the Chinese people, embodying our hope for and pursuit of peace, joy, and good luck," said Lin Cunzhen, professor and associate dean of the School of Design at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, and the lead designer of the mascot.

The United Nations has listed the Lunar New Year as a UN floating holiday in its calendar of conferences and meetings for 2024.

The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in December 2023, requesting the UN agencies at its New York headquarters and other duty stations to avoid holding meetings during the Lunar New Year.

Many countries list the Spring Festival as a national holiday, and about one-fifth of humanity celebrates it in various ways, Dai Bing, China's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, said after the resolution's adoption.

"Everyone was spreading the news, and it was really a very happy day, just like the New Year," Nan Kang, a UN staff member, told China Daily.

"From the point of view of an international staff member, especially one of Chinese nationality, I would feel that our culture is represented on the world stage. The culture is represented and valued," said Kang, who is also the president of the Chinese Book Club at the UN.

All public schools in New York State will be closed for one day for the Lunar New Year. A state law signed into effect in 2023 declared the Lunar New Year a public school holiday starting this year.

It is the only US state that has done so, said Chinese Consul General in New York Huang Ping. "But it is a good start," he said.

On the US East Coast, arts institutions, including the Philadelphia Orchestra and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, will present a series of Lunar New Year concerts.

The New York Philharmonic presented the first Lunar New Year concert in eastern US in 2012. Since then, it has been working with Chinese artists for 12 consecutive years to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

For the fifth consecutive year, Lincoln Center in New York City will host The Sound of Spring, a Lunar New Year concert, on Feb 11. This year, it will feature musicians from China, with traditional Chinese musical instruments, including the erhu and suona. The concert attracts nearly 1,000 attendees each year.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York will host family day programs for local people to experience Chinese cultural heritage.

The National Basketball Association, or NBA, teams such as the Brooklyn Nets organize themed events for the Lunar New Year.

This year marks the 12th consecutive year of the Nets celebrating the Lunar New Year, which is the NBA's biggest and most established Chinese-themed night across the league, said Catherine Carson, executive vice-president of global partnerships at BSE Global, the parent company of Barclays Center, the Nets and others.

"The night speaks to the community, the community that we serve in Brooklyn. We have such a diverse community, including our Chinese community," Carson told China Daily.

"While we are enjoying ourselves, we're actually doing something to contribute to the mutual understanding between our two peoples and to the friendship and the relationship between our two countries," Huang said at a reception for the launch of the consulate's Lunar New Year program on Jan 16.

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