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How you can celebrate Lunar New Year in Madison

Happy Lunar New Year, 608. Ring in the Year of the Dragon with local performances, family-friendly activities, and food.

Yellow lion dance performance costume

The State Street performance takes place at Lisa Link Park. | Photo by 608today

The start of the Lunar New Year coincides with the date of the new moon in China, which will occur at 4:59 p.m. here in Madison on Friday, Feb. 9.

Each year on the lunar calendar is represented by one of 12 animals, and 2024 is the Year of the Dragon. In Chinese culture, people born in a dragon year (1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012) are said to be confident, generous, idealistic, and ambitious.

Lion dances

Since 1995, the Zhong Yi Kung Fu Association (ZYKFA) has been helping the community celebrate the Lunar New Year and learn traditional Chinese martial arts.

Throughout the next few weeks, the organization will be performing Lion Dances around the 608 in honor of the holiday. Lion Dances are often performed to bring good luck to the community.

Two lion dancers - one yellow, one green and white - performing in an outdoor courtyard for a crowd

Get in the Lunar New Year spirit with ZYKFA. | Video by 608today

Under each costume, there are two members of the troupe — one controlling the head, one controlling the body — who theatrically operate the costume while red envelopes are “fed” to them by spectators.

These red envelopes contain monetary offerings for the lions who will, in turn, bless the people and/or businesses to ensure good fortune in the coming year.

Pro tip: we suggest checking out the State Street event on Saturday, Feb. 24 at 12 p.m.

Other local happenings

Year of the Dragon cookie boxes | Bloom Bake Shop, 1851 Monroe St., Madison
Head baker Christy shares her family traditions with Madisonians through an annual Lunar New Year treat box. This year’s goodies include sugar cookies, Hup Toh Soh walnut cookies, and Nin Gau squares.

A treat box with Lunar New Year-themed goodies.

Last year, Bloom Bake Shop celebrated the Year of the Rabbit. | Photo by 608today

Crafting sessions | Madison Children’s Museum, 100 N. Hamilton St., Madison
For the cost of museum admission, kids can participate in the Exploration Station’s Lunar New Year crafting sessions. Think: paper dragon eyes, Lunar New Year lanterns, and crepe paper dragons.

Vegetarian cooking class | St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, 605 Spruce St., Madison
Adults will learn how to whip up some traditional lucky foods. The menu includes spring rolls, dumplings, and long noodles.

Lunar New Year Celebration | Verona Public Library, 500 Silent St., Verona
Families are invited for a morning of activities, crafting, and learning on Saturday, Feb. 10. The event runs 9:30-11:30 a.m. and guests are encouraged to wear red.

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