NYC Cultural Centers Present 3 Months of Pan-Asian New Year's Traditions, Launching 1/26 with Japan Society's Oshogatsu Festival

CelebrASIA NYC: New Year’s Festivities for Families

January-March 2014

Participating Venues: Japan Society + Asia Society + China Institute + Flushing Town Hall + The Korea Society + Museum of Chinese in America + Rubin Museum of Art


New York, NY – Japanese taiko drumming and rice pounding, Korean kite-making, Chinese lion dancing and dumplings, Himalayan mandala-making and butter sculptures, Persian songs, moon-gazing and more: New Year's celebrations throughout Asia are as varied and wondrous as the countries and cultures themselves.

From January to March 2014, seven of New York’s premiere Asia-related organizations unite to present a series of events in Manhattan and Queens, introducing families to exciting Asian New Year’s festivities and traditions. CelebrASIA NYC: New Year’s Festivities for Families kicks off with Japan Society’s Japan's New Year's Day Celebration: Oshogatsu (January 26), followed by Museum of Chinese in America’s Gallop into the New Year with MOCA! (February 1), Asia Society’s Moon Over Manhattan (February 1), The Korea Society’s Family Day: Korean New Year (February 1), China Institute’s Chinese New Year Celebration: Year of the Horse (February 2), Flushing Town Hall’s Lunar New Year Family Workshops (February 2-16), Rubin Museum of Art’s Losar Family Day: Himalayan New Year Celebration (March 8), and Asia Society's Family Day: Spring Into Norouz! Celebrate the Persian New Year (March 15). Full schedule and event descriptions appear the following pages.


Though individual Asian countries have unique practices celebrating the New Year, many common themes cross borders and unite peoples all over Asia. In Japan, China, Korea, Iran, Tibet and other countries along the Himalayas, the New Year is seen as a chance to start afresh while paying respect to traditions. Families clean their houses and take care of any unfinished business before the year begins. New Year’s celebrations are held from three to fifteen days, and incorporate elements of spirituality, rituals for good fortune, honoring one’s ancestors and the importance of family in addition to the larger community.

Japanese people take trips to Buddhist temples to pray and hear the 108 bells that ring out symbolizing the different types of sins humans are said to commit, followed by visits to Shinto shrines on the first three days of the New Year. In Korea people perform the ch'arye (ancestor veneration ceremony) and sebae (ritual greeting of parents and grandparents), and families eat rice-cake soup and play traditional games such as yut nori (a board game) and chegi ch'agi (hacky sack). The Himalayan New Year, Losar, draws largely from Buddhist ceremonies though the festival predates the introduction of Buddhism to the region. People of Persian ancestry honor their ancestors’ spirits in part by creating beautiful altars and dressing their children in shrouds.

“Chinese New Year draws upon various regional folk cultures,” says Peng Zeng from China Institute, “and many practices can be seen as major influences on several countries in Asia. Many traditions were established to recognize the past and prepare for the future, such as the ceremonial house cleaning, or the tradition of young people kneeling before their grandparents in exchange for a red envelope filled with blessing for the New Year.”

Many rituals make use of loud noises and music to expel the bad luck associated with the past year. Banging on pots and pans in Iran and Central Asia is believed to drive away evil spirits of the past year. Similarly, China celebrates with fireworks and lion dancing accompanied by loud cymbals, gongs and other percussive instruments. Japan celebrates with a lion dance as well, but it is accompanied by more melodious court music compared to the rhythmic drive of other countries.

“Traditional food is also an integral part of the New Year’s celebration across the Asian countries,” says Japan Society’s Kazuko Minamoto. “In Japan, it is customary to eat mochi, or rice cakes, as well as a variety of traditional dishes known as osechi.” The Korean New Year is celebrated with rice cake soup, and the Himalayan Losar includes the drinking of Chaang beer and the eating of ghutuk (dumpling soup).

Because time is measured differently across Asia, the dates New Year's is recognized vary greatly. Norouz, the Persian New Year, always falls on the Spring Equinox. Chinese New Year is also marked by the emergence of spring, occurring on the second New Moon after the winter solstice. In contrast, since the Meiji Era, Japan has marked its New Year by the Gregorian calendar, while Koreans celebrate by both the solar and lunar calendars.

2014 marks the Year of the Horse for the countries that recognize the 12 year zodiac cycle. In Japan, Korea and China, children born this coming year are said to possess attributes of "nobility, elegance, and determination [and] said to be sensible, focused, and creative."

To order tickets, contact the sponsoring organization. Members of all participating organizations receive discounts for all CelebrASIA events. To receive this discount, please contact your institution for the promotional code when purchasing tickets online or present your membership card when purchasing tickets at each venue. For more information, visit

Japan's New Year's Day Celebration: Oshogatsu
Sunday, January 26, 2:00-4:00 pm; Taiko Session I at 2:00; Taiko Session II at 3:00
Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street

At Japan Society’s annual Oshogatsu celebration, families and children participate in many traditional New Year’s activities throughout the Society's landmark building, including live taiko drumming and accompanying lion dancing (shishi-mai), followed by a brief taiko session. Participants enjoy rice pounding (mochi-tsuki), calligraphy (kakizome), making kites (tako), the funny face game (fukuwarai) and top spinning (koma-mawashi). Recommended for all ages. Tickets: $8 members, $15 nonmembers, children ages 2 or under free. More info: 212-715-1258,

Gallop into the New Year with MOCA!
Saturday, February 1, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
Museum of Chinese in America, 215 Centre Street

A Lunar New Year celebration to usher in the Year of the Horse. Visitors of all ages are invited to MOCA’s popular annual family festival to celebrate Chinese cultural traditions and the arts. Enjoy an awe-inspiring lion dance performance and workshop, make rattle drums and learn paper folding, embark on storytelling journeys, participate in zodiac-themed arts-and-crafts activities, and sway along with Chinatown's Red Silk Dancers. Tickets: $10 per person; free for MOCA members, children under 2, and Cool Culture families. More info:

Family Day: Korean New Year
Saturday, February 1, 1:00-4:00 pm
The Korea Society, 950 Third Avenue, 8th Floor

Celebrate Sŏllal, the Korean New Year, with a day of fun-filled family activities at The Korea Society. Enjoy storytelling based on Korean folk tales and practice sebae, the New Year’s bow to show respect for elders. Play traditional games such as yutnori and tuhonori, create masks and other crafts, and sample tasty Korean treats. Tickets: Members $25 per family of 3-5 ($5 each additional family member), $10 for individuals; non-members $30 per family of 3-5 ($5 each additional family member); $15 for individuals. More info:

Family Day: Moon Over Manhattan! Celebrate the Lunar New Year
Saturday, February 1, 1:00-4:00 pm
Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue at 70th Street

Asia Society rings in the Year of the Horse with performances and traditional craft activities inspired by Lunar New Year traditions across Asia. Tickets: $5 students, seniors, children; $7 members (Dual Family members free); $12 nonmembers. Tickets available the day of event. More info:

Chinese New Year's Day
Sunday, February 2nd, 11:00 am-3:00 pm
China Institute in America, 125 East 65th Street

Kick off the Year of the Horse with a free lion dance and kung fu demonstration in front of China Institute. Following the lion dance are New Year-themed workshops and activities inside China Institute, including gallery tours of our newest exhibit Inspired by Dunhuang: Re-Creation in Contemporary Chinese Art. Tickets: $10 members, $15 non-members, free for Family Workshop ticket holders. 1 Family Workshop Session tickets: $40 members per family of two, $25 individuals; $50 non-members per family of two; $30 for individuals. 2 Family Workshop Sessions: $70 members per family of two, $40 for individuals; $80 non-members per family of two, $50 for individuals. Register:, 212-744-8181, ext. 143. More info:

Lunar New Year Family Workshops
Sundays, February 2-16, 1:00-4:00 pm
Flushing Town Hall (137-35 Northern Blvd)

Welcome in the Year of the Horse with hands-on workshops at Flushing Town Hall. Participants learn more about different Asian cultures and create a one-of-a-kind art piece to take home. Schedule of events: Korean Mask Making, Sunday, February 2, 1:00 pm; Make Your Wish on Korean Hanji, Sunday, February 9, 1:00 pm; Calligraphy on Chinese Silk Fan, Sunday, February 16, 3:00 pm. Tickets: $10, $8 members and children (materials included). More info:

Losar Family Day: Himalayan New Year Celebration
Saturday March 8, Noon-4:00pm
Rubin Museum of Art (150 West 17th Street at Seventh Avenue)

Celebrate Losar, the Himalayan New Year, with a day of art, crafts, food, and music at the Rubin Museum of Art. Watch as a master artist creates a sand mandala and contribute to a giant collaborative mandala in the theater. Go on gallery tours and enjoy traditional music performances throughout the day. Construct colorful butter sculptures and sip Himalayan butter tea in the art studio. Tickets: $10 per child; discount for children of individual members; free for dual/family members and above. Adults pay regular admission fees. Free for children under 1 year and Cool Culture members. More at:

Family Day: Spring Into Norouz! Celebrate the Persian New Year
Saturday, March 15, 1:00-4:00 pm
Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue at 70th Street

Norouz, the Persian New Year, marks the beginning of spring. Discover the spirit of Norouz with traditional music, dance and crafts from Central Asia and Iran. Tickets: $5 students, seniors, children; $7 members (Dual Family members free); $12 non-members. Tickets available the day of even.

Launched in 2010, CelebrASIA NYC was the first official programming collaboration between Asia Society, Japan Society, The Korea Society, Rubin Museum of Art and China Institute, and this year has expanded to include the Museum of Chinese in America in Chinatown and Flushing Town Hall. The series educates and entertains families through delicious food, thrilling performances, and exciting games, music, films and crafts.

Founded in 1907, Japan Society is a world-class, multidisciplinary hub for global leaders, artists, scholars, educators, and English and Japanese-speaking audiences. At the Society, more than 100 events each year feature sophisticated, topically relevant presentations of Japanese art and culture and open, critical dialogue on issues of vital importance to the U.S., Japan and East Asia. An American nonprofit, nonpolitical organization, the Society cultivates a constructive, resonant and dynamic relationship between the people of the U.S. and Japan. More at

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Media Contacts:
Asia Society: Rachel Rosado, 212-327-9371, RRosado [at] asiasociety [dot] org
China Institute: Peng Zeng, 212.744.8181, pzeng [at] chinainstitute [dot] org
Flushing Town Hall: Malika Granville, 718-463-7700 ext. 224, mgranville [at] flushingtownhall [dot] org
Japan Society: Shannon Jowett, 212-715-1205, sjowett [at] japansociety [dot] org
Korea Society: Luz Lanzot, luz.ny [at] koreasociety [dot] org
Museum of Chinese in America: Maureen Hoon, mhoon [at] mocanyc [dot] org
Rubin Museum: Talia Shulze, 212.620.5000 x335, aschindewolf [at] rmanyc [dot] org

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