Time to crow, strut and fluff your feathers. Saturday marks the Lunar New Year, and there are plenty of ways to celebrate the Year of the Rooster around Puget Sound. An important Asian holiday that rotates animals based on the Chinese zodiac, Lunar New Year is traditionally a time to honor the gods, gather the family, clean the house and usher in new luck with firecrackers, red decorations and money.
There will certainly be plenty of that around Tacoma and Seattle, but there’s also treasure-hunting at Monkeyshines, lion dances in the Chinatown-International District and Asia-Pacific cultures at the Tacoma Dome.
Here’s the rundown on how to do Lunar New Year, Puget Sound-style.
Hide and seek: Monkeyshines in Tacoma
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No, it’s not exactly a traditional Asian New Year activity. But getting up at 4 a.m. on a cold, dark winter’s morning and scouring Tacoma’s streets for glass floats, medallions and other treasures has become a Tacoma tradition. Monkeyshines began in 2003 with a group of anonymous glass artists hiding 200 pieces of art emblazoned with a Year of the Monkey design. Now, 13 years later, there are more than 1,000 glass pieces to be found, this time with a rooster pattern. That’s not to mention the “rogue monkeys”: community groups and individuals who are hiding buttons, laser-cut wooden roosters, rooster tea cups, marbles, Tacoma Rocks and more.
And the whole point is not what you find, it’s what you give, say organizers.
“Ms. Monkey is asking all community members how they can bring magic to the city during this time of the year,” said the glass artist who organizes the event anonymously. “Maybe open doors? Pick up trash while hunting? Show extra kindness to everyone we encounter? We Monkeyshiners would love to make the city magical this year.”
You can also donate to the cause to pay for the glass costs. All donations are accepted, but every donation of $100 or more will get you a 2017 Rooster glass candle cup, available for pickup at Creative Forces at the Hotel Murano.
If you find a glass object, remember to only take one. They’re hidden in publicly-accessible places and distributed in the dead of night on one of the nights surrounding the official Lunar New Year date of Jan. 28. Keep an eye on social media for tips.
When: Sometime before, on or after Saturday.
Where: Locations around Tacoma.
Cost: Free, but donate at bit.ly/2kh1y7j.
Information: firstname.lastname@example.org, facebook.com/MonkeyshinesTacoma.
Lanterns and video: Lincoln District Lunar New Year
Tacoma’s Lincoln District celebrates Year of the Rooster with a street party this Sunday, including lion dancers, cultural groups and global cuisine as well as the district’s own Asian businesses, restaurants and iconic street lanterns.
And in the window near the intersection of South 38th Street and South Park Avenue, artist Terese Cuff will have a video and animation installation inspired by the businesses and rhythms of the Lincoln District. The work is part of the ongoing Lincoln Revitalization Project.
When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday (video art from 4 p.m. Saturday).
Where: Yakima Avenue and South 38th Street, Tacoma.
Cultures galore: Lunar New Year at the Tacoma Dome
It’s all about Guam this year at the Asia Pacific Cultural Center’s 19th annual New Year celebration at the Tacoma Dome, which attracts more than 7,000 people from British Columbia to Oregon.
“There are quite a few Guamanians in the community, keeping the Chamorro culture,” said center President Patsy Suhr O’Connell. “One of their dance teachers came to us (a few years ago) to use the space to practice. They started with 20 people, and now they have over 70 … from as young as 3 years old to adults. They’re so disciplined. They recite with the music, so they learn the language, which is beautiful.”
The Guam dancers will kickstart the celebration after the opening ceremony at 11 a.m., and will be followed every 30 minutes by cultural performances from China, Okinawa, Thailand, Hawaii, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia, India and Korea. A second stage will feature self-defense groups from the Japanese, Korean and Filipino traditions.
There’s a bounty of cultural food choices, raffle baskets from each community, more than 70 booths plus hands-on activities for children and adults — including try-on Korean dress, new this year.
“We had a donation of Korean dresses for women, men and children,” said O’Connell. “People can even rent them for one to two hours during the festival to take photos and see what it feels like to wear Korean dress.”
The event is popular, says O’Connell, because the community is interested in learning about all the Asia-Pacific cultures.
“And February is a good time of year to have an indoor activity for the family,” she said.
When: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Feb. 11.
Where: Tacoma Dome, 2727 E. D St., Tacoma.
Information: 253-383-3900, asiapacificculturalcenter.org/newyear.
Lions and dragons: Chinatown- International District festival, Seattle
Saturday: Catch the lion dance with firecrackers, drums and dancers at 11 a.m. outside the Wing Luke Museum before heading inside for a Lunar New Year Fair. Kids can play games, make crafts and check off activities on a passport to win a ceramic rooster money box. Then take a museum walking tour of the neighborhood, themed around Bruce Lee or local smells and tastes.
When: Open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday (see website for tour times).
Where: 719 S. King St., Seattle.
Cost: Outdoor events are free. Museum admission is $14.95 adults, $11.95 seniors, free for children and students.
Information: 206-623-5124, wingluke.org.
Sunday: The district’s outdoor community Lunar New Year festival is the biggest of its kind in the region, drawing thousands of people to watch traditional dragon and lion dances, taiko drumming, martial arts, hula dancing and more. There’s also a noodle-eating contest for kids, a costume contest for adults and children, and arts and crafts, plus the dozens of restaurant choices in the district.
When: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Hing Hay Park, 423 Maynard Ave. S., Seattle.
Rosemary Ponnekanti: @rose_ponnekanti