Niskayuna students had a busy week gearing up for the Lunar New Year.
Rosendale students and brothers Emerson and Owen wanted to share a cultural tradition with their classmates and teachers at Rosendale Elementary School.
They took it upon themselves to write a letter to Principal Laurel Jones to ask for permission to perform a lion dance at school.
Jones agreed and called for a parade to be held Wednesday.
Emerson and Owen had practiced a bit at home, but this was their first public lion dance performance and it was going to take place throughout the whole school.
“Doing the lion dance through the hallways, I felt nervous but then I felt happy,” Owen said.
Despite feeling some nerves, the brothers were thrilled to have a chance to share a part of their culture with their classmates.
The outcome was better than they expected.
“When I walked into my classroom they cheered for me and said, ‘Nice job,’” Emerson said. “I didn’t think it was going to turn out this big.”
Lion dances are common throughout Asian cultures. Their purpose is to bring good fortune in the new year. It’s a very popular way to celebrate the holiday, but Niskayuna High School students explored other common traditions.
World Language students studying Chinese took a field trip to the Chinese Community Center in Latham to view the new year paintings, also said to bring good luck and fortune.
Afterward they went to a traditional Chinese restaurant and ordered specialty dishes to commemorate the holiday.
The menu included squirrel fish (松鼠鳜鱼, sōng shǔ guì yú), rice ball sweet soup (汤圆 tāng yuán), steamed pork juicy bun( 小笼包 xiǎo lóng bāo) and dumplings (饺子 jiǎo zǐ).
Dumplings, which resemble boat-shaped silver ingots, are believed to bring good luck and wealth. Legend says the more dumplings one eats, the greater their earnings will be in the new year.
The round shapes in rice ball soup are said to symbolize family togetherness or reunion.
Squirrel fish should be the last dish on the table, with some left over in order to ensure there are surpluses all year.
The Lunar New Year begins Saturday, February 10, 2024.