Individuals play traditional Japanese drums during a performance.

Saturday, February 10, 2024, will mark the start of Lunar New Year celebrations and usher in the Year of the Dragon based on the Chinese zodiac calendar. Over one billion people worldwide will celebrate Lunar New Year over multiple days with a variety of traditions. Lunar New Year begins with the rise of the first new moon and spans for about 15 days until the full moon.

The Lunar New Year is considered one of the most important celebrations among East and Southeast Asian cultures, including the Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean communities.

The Chinese zodiac calendar is represented by one of 12 animals in the cycle of stations, or “signs,” along the path of the sun through the universe. The 12 different animals which appear on the calendar include: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. Five elements: earth, water, fire, wood and metal are also mapped onto the traditional Chinese lunar calendar. Each year is associated with an animal that corresponds to an element.

The Festival of Lanterns

Each community celebrates the Lunar New Year differently with various foods and traditions that symbolize prosperity and abundance and bring together family and friends. In preparation for the Lunar New Year, families clean their homes to rid them of inauspicious spirits and open space for good will and good luck. Elders give out envelopes containing money to children and share foods made with glutinous rice — representing togetherness.

The Lunar New Year concludes with the Lantern Festival on day 15. This celebration of the first full moon of the new year marks the departure of winter and the beginning of the spring season. Lanterns are lit to symbolize hope for the coming year and people gather to admire the displays.

BSD Communities Celebrate the Year of the Dragon

BSD school communities celebrate this auspicious time in many ways. On Friday, February 2, 2024, the Tyee Middle School community held their annual Lunar New Year Festival. The evening included student and group performances, an array of food options and activity booths. Event photographers Dove_Ip Studio and Rico Xiong shared the following images that captured the evening.

Check out district social media throughout the month (Facebook and Instagram) to view additional images of celebrations across our learning community!

The Bellevue School District acknowledges that we learn, work, live and gather on the Indigenous Land of the Coast Salish peoples, specifically the Duwamish and Snoqualmie Tribes. We thank these caretakers of this land, who have lived and continue to live here, since time immemorial.