Photo: Jim Williams celebrating the Year of the Dog.
The Lunar New Year, the most important holiday in the Chinese’s community calendar, begins on Friday, Feb. 16 as people around the world including in Belmont celebrate the Year of the Dog, one of the 12 animals in the Chinese astrological chart.
Every year, the Chinese New Year starts on the new moon occurring between Jan. 21 and Feb. 20. The celebration lasts 15 days. It is tradition to set off fireworks and firecrackers, hoping to keep away bad luck. Families also clean their house to sweep away any ill-fortune and make way for incoming good luck. Windows and doors are decorated with red paper strips and couplets about good fortune, wealth and longevity. Red symbolizes good fortune in Chinese tradition; children are given red envelopes of money called “hongbao.”
This past Sunday, the Belmont Chinese American Association held its annual Spring Festival Gala at the Chenery Middle School. At the celebration were a number of town and elected officials in attendance, including Board of Selectmen Chair Jim Williams who provided these remarks:
“It’s my privilege and pleasure to be here with you today to help celebrate the Chinese New Year of the Dog, the 11th animal in the Chinese zodiac and the symbol of loyalty and honesty.
“People born in the year of the dog are said to possess the best traits of human nature: they are honest, friendly, faithful, loyal, smart, straightforward, venerable and have a strong sense of responsibility. Since I was myself born in 1946, I leave it to each of you research what can their negatives as I prefer to only announce our best traits this evening.
“These traits are especially important in the coming year given the tough times we are facing in the current global circumstances. The year ahead of us promises to bring many challenges, but a new year also brings with it the opportunity to work hard, smarter, and to be problem solvers and opportunity takers.
“The Belmont and greater Boston Chinese community have also enriched the lives of all Bostonians and Belmontians through the celebration of Chinese arts, cuisine, and traditions as well as contributing to our local economy. Welcome and thank you. I especially embrace the teaching of Lao Tzu, as a principled way to do business and for governments to behave.
“Chinese celebrations like the one we have gathered together for this evening have become an important part of Belmont’s and Boston’s cultural calendar.”