: Lan Su Chinese Garden

How to Celebrate Lunar New Year in Oregon

A brief history and a roundup of this year's events, virtual and in-person.
February 11, 2021 (Updated January 25, 2022)
Advertisements

Lunar New Year, traditionally known as the Spring Festival in many East Asian and South Asian cultures, marks a period of renewal. The holiday brings together friends and family to feast, reflect and usher in prosperity, happiness and good health. 

Based on the traditional lunisolar calendar, Lunar New Year does not adhere to a fixed date like the January 1 of the Gregorian calendar. Typically occurring anywhere between January 19 and February 23, Lunar New Year in 2022 falls on February 1. In accordance with the Chinese zodiac, each year is associated with one of the five Chinese elements and one of 12 astrological animals. This is the Year of the Tiger.

Cultures that celebrate Lunar New Year include Chinese, Korean, Mongolian, Tibetan and Vietnamese — many of which have long and rich histories in Oregon, including small towns like Baker City and John Day. Enticed by gold-mining opportunities, Cantonese-Chinese immigrants settled in the Oregon Territory before it was granted statehood. As the state flourished, Chinese and Japanese communities grew and contributed to the agricultural and fishery industries. 

Today many of the cultural traditions remain the same. The three-day Korean Seollal celebration encompasses the day before, the day of and the day after. Families observe rituals of filial piety and eat tteokguk, a soup with sliced rice cakes. During the Vietnamese Tết Nguyên Đán, families display New Year trees, which are decorated with good-luck charms and origami, and enjoy bánh tét — sticky rice filled with mung beans and/or meat and wrapped in banana leaves. 

Chinese New Year is perhaps the most well-known of the Lunar New Year celebrations. The festive period spans 15 days, beginning on the first lunar new moon of the year (Feb. 1, 2022) and ending on the full moon (Feb. 15, 2022). For good luck, Chinese people wear red and make an offering to the Kitchen God, a highly revered deity who reports to heaven on families’ deeds. 

This year celebrations across the state may look a little different than years past, but communities are finding inventive ways to get festive. Here’s what’s happening.

Red lanterns hang from the entrance of Lan Su Chinese Garden.
Reserve your time to explore the Chinese New Year celebrations at Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland.

Multnomah County Library (Virtual)

Jan. 25, 2022

Multnomah County Library is presenting a virtual gathering, Celebrate 2022/The Year of the Tiger that includes a lion dance performance by White Lotus, a solo presentation of Vietnamese traditional musical instruments by David Dahl from Tieng Hoai Huong Ensemble, and a special introduction of traditional Vietnamese attire. The event is scheduled for 6-7:30 p.m. Contact the library staff at [email protected] or 503-988-5123 or visit any county library location with questions.

Chinese Friendship Association of Portland (In Person)

Jan. 29, 2022

The Chinese Friendship Association of Portland, a local nonprofit, will host a Lunar New Year Celebration for the second year in a row at Portland’s Keller Auditorium. It will be the first time that multiple Asian communities and other communities come together to celebrate Lunar New Year. The spectacular lineup of performances includes a two-time Guinness World Record holder performing acrobatics, professional and award-winning singing stars, international Wushu champions performing their best routines, and a variety of culture performances by well-known groups and individuals. There will also be art exhibits by well-known visual artists and craft workshops by popular culture organizations including portrait drawing on site. Check the website for tickets and other details.

A girl holds a martial arts pose
Courtesy of Portland’5 Centers for the Arts

Southern Oregon Chinese Cultural Association (Virtual)

February 2022

The Medford-based Southern Oregon Chinese Cultural Association will not host a Chinese New Year celebration in 2022, but welcomes the public to view its rich virtual content from the past 15 years. In addition, SOCCA will be releasing new virtual programs as the new year approaches. Those include a presentation called “The Chinese Railroad/Diaspora” (a recent collaboration with the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument and Southern Oregon University Anthropology Laboratory); and “Introduction to Beijing Opera” (presented by Ghaffar Pourazar at Grizzly Peak Winery).

Lan Su Chinese Garden (In Person)

Feb. 1-15, 2022

Lan Su Chinese Garden is hosting a series of joyous and colorful events during the garden’s two-week Chinese New Year celebration. Events will include cultural performances, festival decorations, family craft activities, audio tours, Year of the Tiger scavenger hunts and more. The opening ceremony is planned for 9:45 a.m. Feb. 1, with a Chinese lion dance performance at Lan Su’s Front Plaza. Visitors will receive a hong bao, or traditional lucky red envelope to start the new year right. On the weekends of Feb. 5-6 and Feb. 12-13, visitors will be treated to nonstop programming including the lion dance, traditional Chinese dance, Chinese martial arts demonstrations, calligraphy demonstrations, family craft activities and more. Pro tip: You can download the Discover Lan Su mobile app for free access to garden audio tours and the interactive scavenger hunt.

Culture on Zoom: Artist Talk with Dean Wong (Virtual)

Feb. 2, 20222

 Portland Chinatown Museum, in collaboration with the Lan Su Chinese Garden, presents a special event with Seattle-based photographer Dean Wong. A photographer for over 40 years, Dean specializes in capturing the Pacific Northwest’s vibrant Chinese community. Born and raised in Seattle’s Chinatown, he has photographed his community for over 40 years. His book, Seeing the Light: Four Decades In Chinatown, earned the Before Columbus Foundation’s American Book Award in 2017. He has photographed Chinatowns in Seattle, Vancouver B.C., San Francisco, Oakland, New York, and Portland. Log on for free registration to the event.

 

 

A performer appears to hover in mid-air
Courtesy of Portland’5 Centers for the Arts

Washington Square Mall (In Person)

Feb. 5, 2022

Washington Square Mall in Tigard invites shoppers to visit their Wishing Tree in Summit Court. The tradition involves participants making a wish on a red ribbon and tossing it onto the tree. It is believed that wishes will come true in the coming year if they stick. Afterward, enjoy some dumplings, traditionally eaten during the New Year, at Taiwanese chain restaurant Din Tai Fung. 

Culture on Zoom: The Chinese Zodiac and Lunar New Year Traditions, with Sarah Chung (Virtual)

Feb. 9, 2022

In collaboration with the Lan Su Chinese Garden, and to welcome in the Year of the Tiger, join Portland Chinese Museum board member Sarah Chung will guide attendees through the Chinese Zodiac and other traditions. Chung is a retired clinical pharmacist with roots in both Astoria and Portland. She plays an active role in her community and is chair of the Portland Chinese Scholarship Foundation and serves on the boards of the Chinese Scientists, Engineers, and Professionals Association and the Oregon Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association. She is a founding member of the Portland Chinatown History Foundation and is a current board of director and officer. Log on for free registration to the event.

 

About The
Author

Janey Wong
Janey Wong is a freelance writer and food Instagrammer @foodbbpdx. Born and raised in Portland, she has also lived in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of her family’s home country Malaysia. She loves to explore all of Oregon’s unique landscapes and cultural pockets, and has a goal of visiting all 50 states. Compiling lists of places to eat is often her first priority whilst trip planning. Her work has appeared in The Oregonian, Travel Portland, Womanly Magazine and others.

Trip Ideas