Four people standing in front of a decorated wall smiling at the camera

Celebrate Lunar New Year in Boston!

Happy year of the dragon, everyone!

On Saturday the 10th of February, Boston, alongside many other cities globally, welcomed the year of the dragon. I’m assuming that since the Super Bowl took place on the 11th of February, the celebrations were shifted, allowing me to go to the Vietnamese Tết the weekend prior as well as to the parade in Boston’s Chinatown on the 18th!

Let’s start chronologically.


Three different kinds of mochi donuts on paper plates.
Delicious mochi donuts Photo: Robert Kashan

The Tết was held in the harbor area, allowing me to explore an area I would have otherwise not gone to. The whole atmosphere was amazing and there were a variety of small stands selling everything from Vietnamese food over small keepsakes to traditional clothing. My friend who is familiar with the cuisine was extremely excited to see us try the foods, and so we tried freshly pressed sugar cane juice and mochi donuts as well as spicy bread, amongst others! They were all incredibly delicious!

A girl "feeding" one of the typical Lunar New Year dragons.
”Feeding” the dragon. Photo: Du Hanh Nguyen

Many people came in their traditional clothing which added to the atmosphere. The event spanned across a total of three floors, each one elaborately decorated. A stage for performances was set up on the top floor and here I was able to enjoy a dance performance, an impressive display of different martial arts as well as the lion dance! The dragons in the lion dance came down into the audience after their performance and I learned that it is a tradition to “feed” them with some money to get good luck in the new year, so that’s what we did!

Celebrations in Chinatown

The main difference to the Tết was that this event was spread all over Chinatown, with several small dance performances all over. The whole neighborhood was made into a pedestrian zone, with police guarding the edges.

A crowd gathered in front of a gate that marks to celebrate Lunar New Year.
Celebrations in front of the gate marking the entrance to Boston’s Chinatown. Photo: Muriel Heitsch

The dances were very impressive, with elaborately made dragons twirling and twisting above the crowd as well as several lion dances. But what I loved the most about the festivities in Chinatown was when the dragons went around to bless the shops. According to tradition, the show owners put a cabbage and an orange outside the store as an offering to the dragons, who “inspected” the food and finally kicked the cabbage into the air. The shopkeepers then gave the dragons red envelopes with money, thus conferring good luck on the business for the coming year. Often, this ritual was then followed by loud firecrackers, adding on to the music made by the musicians who followed the dragons. It was definitely a spectacular sight at every store.

In all, I am in love with the internationality of Boston and much appreciate the variety of diasporas that have the opportunity not only to follow but also to share their traditions. Next up is St Patrick’s day in March!

1 kommentarer

Du Hanh

Du Hanh

Wow, this is such an awesome blog! I enjoyed reading every word, very well written and really insightful. Thank you!! (She definitely deserves a raise!)

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