GRAND RAPIDS, Mich (WOTV) – Families all over the world will be celebrating the Lunar New Year, including, right here in West Michigan. So Maranda went to check out how local families come together and celebrate.
Maranda’s first stop was at the Kim Nhung Superstore in Grand Rapids. Maranda’s producer, Peter Chhum, took her around the store as they shopped for the Lunar New Year essentials as she learned more about the origins of the holiday and how to celebrate. The items Peter picked out started with a New Year party tray, also known as the “Tray of Togetherness” which is filled with dried fruits and candies, some fresh produce which included dragon fruits, longans, and oranges, a fresh fish for dinner, red lanterns for decoration, and red envelopes used to hand out money.
Maranda’s next stop was visiting with a Vietnamese Buddhist youth group as they practiced the iconic “Lion Dance” The Lion dance is a colorful dance that is most recognizable with the Lunar New Year and is used to wish good luck for the year ahead. She also saw a few other traditional dances from the younger kids.
The Lunar New Year celebration is honed in to bring good luck for the coming year and one of the most important traditions to ensure this is through food. Maranda visited the China City Restaurant in Kentwood (5307 Eastern Avenue SE, Kentwood MI 49508). Maranda was joined by Yili Bonarksi and Johnny Liu, two of Grand Rapids’ Chinese culture experts. Together they dined on steamed fish which signifies surplus for year ahead, pan-fried dumpling which symbolizes a prosperous year, salt and pepper shrimp which signifies being healthy and energetic, and stir-fried noodles. The longer the noodle, the longer and healthier it is believed your life will be.
Meadowbrook Elementary’s K-4 in Forest Hills offers a Chinese immersion program and has more than 300 students enrolled. Students experience a full language immersion model where they learn Mandarin Chinese. Maranda stopped by to join in on their Lunar New Year celebration which included a martial arts demonstration and the lion dance.