Celebrate the Lunar New Year in Tacoma

The Lunar New Year arrives Feb. 5. The arrival of the Year of the Pig will be celebrated in a number of events in Tacoma. The annual event called “Monkeyshines,” in which artists hide glass balls and medallions around town, is also taking place for the 15th consecutive year. File photo
The Lunar New Year arrives Feb. 5. The arrival of the Year of the Pig will be celebrated in a number of events in Tacoma. The annual event called “Monkeyshines,” in which artists hide glass balls and medallions around town, is also taking place for the 15th consecutive year. File photo

Those of you who think the winter holidays are over are jumping the gun if you’ve taken all of your decorations down. Personally, I’m holding out until the Lunar New Year – which hits on Feb. 5 this time around – before I finish taking down the decorations. (True, I do have a silver, tinsel Christmas tree, so I don’t have to worry about dried out pine needles falling all over the rug.)

The Lunar New Year, which is celebrated all over East Asia and has begun to spread westward, is determined by the date of the second new moon after the winter solstice (Dec. 21). Lunar New Year can thus fall anywhere from late January to some date within the first three weeks of February.

In Tacoma, there are a number of Lunar New Year events slated to occur around the Feb. 5 date of the actual event. Here is a listing:

University of Puget Sound Chinese Lunar New Year Celebration
Friday, Feb. 1, 4:30-6:30 p.m.
UPS, Wyatt Hall, Second Floor Atrium

Celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year through tea demonstrations and tasting sessions presented by Chunman Gissing. Come practice Chinese calligraphy, view the New Year cultural displays and enjoy Asian-themed refreshments.
Cost: Free
Info: www.pugetsound.edu/news-and-events/events-calendar/details/chinese-lunar-new-year-celebration/2019-02-01/

21st annual New Year Celebration
Saturday, Feb. 9, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Tacoma Dome Exhibition Hall, 2727 E. D St., Tacoma

The Asia Pacific Cultural Center presents its annual New Year Celebration Feb. 9 at the Tacoma Dome. This year, the event features the beautiful islands and culture of Hawaii. There will be more than 90 booths of cultural arts from many countries, food drinks and retail booths, as well as games and crafts. There will be live entertainment from Indonesia, Japan, China, Hawaii, Guam, Philippines, Korea, Thailand, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Vietnam, Cambodia, Okinawa, Micronesia, India, Tokelau, Burma, Taiwan, Pakistan, Tahiti, Laos, Hmong, Mongolia, Singapore, the Micronesia Federated States and more.
Cost: Free
Info: www.asiapacificculturalcenter.org/newyear

Tet New Year: A Celebration of Spring
Saturday, Feb. 16, 1 p.m.
University of Puget Sound, Wheelock Rotunda Upper Marshall Hall

Come celebrate the beginning of the new season with the Vietnamese American Community Association, the Vietnamese Senior Association of Olympia & Vicinity, and sponsored by Tacoma Arts, the Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment (#LIASE), and Harvest Pierce County. There will be traditional food, a Southeast Asian seed swap to celebrate the coming growing season with Harvest Pierce County, and a lineup of musical and dance performers TBA. You will also have the chance to participate in fun traditions, such as the distribution of Lucky Money (Lì-xì), feed the red and yellow dancing lions to scare away the bad and bring in the good, and Golden Bamboo walking group will lead all attendees in an interpretive dance that brings back springtime memories from their childhood in Vietnam. Finally, the mic will open up for karaoke! 

The event is free and family friendly, but if you take a plate of food donations are greatly appreciated (and it’s extra lucky to donate during Tết).

This will be a wonderful way to celebrate the local season and Tacoma’s unique Vietnamese community heritage. 
Cost: Free
Info: www.asiapacificculturalcenter.org/newyear

Note: A Lunar New Year celebration is also in the works for the Lincoln District, but no details were available at press time. Check http://www.facebook.com/LincolnDistrictTacoma for updates.

Monkey Shines 

For the past 15 years, Tacoma has been fortunate to be visited by Monkeyshines, an art project undertaken by a mischievous and mysterious group of artists and volunteers who make glass balls emblazoned with the Chinese zodiac symbol for each particular year.

In 2004, the first year of the project, it was the Year of the Monkey and 200 glass balls were made and hidden around Tacoma as gifts to the finder. By 2012, the Year of the Dragon, Monkeyshines was putting out 500 pieces of glass art, hiding them on the local beaches, in the branches of trees, around downtown and in neighborhood parks.

Now 2019, the Year of the Pig, brings the 12-year Chinese zodiac to the end of a 12-year cycle and the magical monkeys of Monkeyshines are working away in their secret factories making glass floats and medallions. With the help of Tacoma Arts Commission and contributions from private citizens, Monkeyshines hopes to put out more than 2,000 glass balls, medallions and other items in the days surrounding the Chinese New Year.

Monkeyshines is not an organization; it is an event put on by anonymous artists as a random act of kindness and a celebration of the city. Akin to a citywide scavenger hunt, glass gifts are hidden in public places throughout Tacoma. Other artists have joined in the fun. For the past several years, the poster-makers of Beautiful Angle have placed Chinese zodiac posters around town. There are also like-minded personages like “Moonsnail” and “Marbleman,” who leave decorated shells and handmade marbles all over town and on public pathways.

The project is spearheaded by a mysterious entity called Ms. Monkey. “So, what is your gift to Tacoma?” asks Ms. Monkey, the official, unidentified spokesperson of Monkeyshines. “Will you leave poetry in a bottle? Maybe you can perform an act of kindness to strangers (buying someone else’s coffee, helping with groceries, etc.)? Whatever your particular gift might be, we’re asking that you share it with Tacoma.” Ms. Monkey reminds those wishing to leave their own Monkeyshines creations that all gifts should be distributed only on public property.

Find your own way to join in the fun. Around Chinese New Year get out into town and try to find your own prize. Remember, however, that the first, second and third rule of Monkeyshine is: Take only one. Leave surprises for others to find.

To view a video on Monkeyshines visit www.facebook.com/CityofTacoma/videos/10154230205117829/UzpfSTQ1MTQwMDI4ODI1MzA1NDoyMDc2ODA4MzU5MDQ1NTY0/

For more on Monkeyshines, visit www.facebook.com/MonkeyshinesTacoma.

Year of the Pig

2019 is the Year of the Pig, the last year of the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac.

According to the myths, the pig was the last to arrive when the Jade Emperor called for the great meeting. Legend has it that just as the emperor was about to call it a day, an oink and squeal was heard from a little pig. The pig was late because he got hungry during the race to the Jade Palace and promptly stopped for a feast, then fell asleep. After the nap, the pig continued the race and was named the 12th and last animal of the zodiac cycle.

The pig is the 12th of the 12-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar. 

According to Chinese astrology, 2019 will be a great year to make money and a good year to invest. 2019 is going to be full of joy, a year of friendship and love for all the zodiac signs; an auspicious year because the pig attracts success in all the spheres of life.

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