Disneyland celebrates Lunar New Year!
2012 is Mushu’s year! The Year of the Dragon, as many Asian Cultures celebrate the Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival. Red and Gold are seen everywhere which represents fortune and prosperity. Every year, children or adults who are not married, will receive a Red Envelop with money for Good Luck.
“Gung Hei Fat Choi” is said among my Chinese family members as we celebrate this special festival every year. Many other Asian Cultures celebrate the Lunar New Year as well, which D’land Diva will tell you when she describes the festivities at Disneyland below.
“Gung Hei Fat Choi” means to wish prosperity to another. We also say “Sun Yee Fai Lo” which means Happy New Year and “Cee Cee You Yee” which means everything be in your favour. These sayings are said among Cantonese-speaking people during this time.
The Lunar New Year falls at different times every year. Sometimes it is in January and some years it is in February. It depends on when a new moon arises. This shows that Spring has arrived. Historically, many Asian Cultures were mainly agricultural societies, where farmers would depend on the Moon to determine their harvest, thus celebrating rebirth and a new year to thrive.
Noodles are eaten, which symbolizes one to have a long life. And FISH is very important, for the Chinese, the phonetic saying of Fish in Chinese “Yue” also means to have abundance, therefore never running out. Another traditional dish is a whole roasted baby pig complete with head. Tangerines and Clementines are also abundant as well as lots of tasty vegetable and rice dishes. My favourite dessert is a fried glutinous-rice cake called Nian Goa.
When you see the festivities of the Lunar New Year festival, you will always enjoy the electrifying Dragon and Lion dances, with traditional Asian Drummers, beating strongly on drums along with people rhythmically clashing cymbals. These dances are made to drive out the Evil Spirits that may do harm to you in the new year.
There are 12 Animals (pig, rooster, goat, rat, rabbit, dog, ox, snake, tiger, horse, monkey and of course the Dragon) which represent each year on the Zodiac Lunar Calendar and goes through a 12 year cycle. Legend has it that when the gods called the animals, these were the first 12 to arrive. In many Asian cultures, the whole country shuts down for many days (traditionally for 15 days). This is a time for those living away from home to go back and celebrate with their families, to bring in a new year full of happiness together, abundance and fortune.
Happy Lunar New Year! – Canadian Diva
Last year, Disneyland introduced and event called Family Fun Weekends, in which rare characters, arts and crafts, new foods and a celebration of the Lunar New Year occurs in the Festival Arena area. This area used to house a show, but has since been closed off to the public and used for private events. This year, the Lunar New Year celebration was held over the course of 10 days, from January 20-29. The celebration took place in the It’s a Small World mall area. If you’re quick you might still have time to catch it!
The area was elaborately decorated with lanterns, colorful banners and was really well themed. There were even cherry blossom tree plants (not real of course) that were brought in. At the center of the mall was a long dragon that covered the length of the backdrop, thus honoring this year as the Year of the Dragon.
The elaborate theming extended to the cast members and the characters. Characters were available for pictures.
Below the dragon, at the center of the mall, was a beautiful large mural with an explanation of how Korean, Chinese and Vietnamese families traditionally celebrate the Lunar New Year. There was also a really creative way to look at the year you were born in, using Disney characters in the place of the animal icons.
The area was not only about beautiful decorations and character interactions. but was also an interactive experience with special foods, dancing with ribbons and crafting. Foods included egg rolls, edamame, and almond cookies. At the craft table, kids could make dragon puppets or paper lanterns. There was also an ever popular coloring station!
As we passed through the area later in the day, there was a group of students dressed beautifully there to perform from the Korean dance academy. Cast members also had a dancing show that drew the attention of the kids.
This was a special opportunity for Disneyland visitors, but it seemed quite popular and it would be great to see more cultural events, especially given the diversity in Southern California. If you are planning your Disneyland Resort vacation for next year around this time, I strongly encourage you to check out the Lunar New Year celebration!